Creativity is the driving force behind innovative solutions, products, and marketing, yet most people don't have a plan to nurture it. You have a plan for managing your finances, developing your employees, and growing your business, so why not creativity? It is just as critical to your success--even if you're making widgets in an assembly line--because it gives you an edge over your competition.

But how do you nurture creativity?

There are a multitude of ways, but this past week gave me a surprisingly easy one that not only increased my creative output and mental clarity, but also gave me more quality time with my family and friends. How, you ask? I used the "off" button on my cell phone. I didn't just put it on vibrate or do not disturb--I turned it all the way off--along with my computer.

Does the idea of a tech-free weekend scare you or sound utterly luxurious? Personally, I was feeling a bit over-connected and I just wanted a break. I have been prepping for several big events I have coming up this fall, so I have been working overtime, and last Wednesday, I had a long, 14-hour magazine photo shoot. The week leading up to it was especially chaotic, and I was just feeling exhausted after the shoot. I knew I needed a break, so on Thursday, when my phone rang on my way in for a massage (to make up for those 14 hours on my feet in heels), I was done! I gave notice I was turning off all of my tech until Monday morning.

I decided I was only using technology that didn't want anything from me, so I still used my kindle, car, air conditioning, TV, etc.. Only technology that brought me relaxation felt acceptable. Anything that was going to give me notifications of things I "needed" to do was turned off and put away. (I call this my annoying tech.) No more email notifications, tweets, invitations to play silly games on Facebook--nothing. Nada. No More.

So what happened?

Initially, it was difficult. I couldn't believe how many times I wanted to look at my phone for silly reasons, or no reason at all. This is why I turned it all the way off--it's become a reflex! How many times in the day do you waste time on your phone? For me, it's too many. My lovely smartphone is the most distracting thing I own.

When I didn't have it on hand, I had to find other things to occupy my mind. I looked around. I watched people. I spoke to my husband (about non-email matters!).

Turning off my phone gave me mental space.

Like many business owners, I still thought about business... a lot. I wanted to turn on my phone or computer and jot down notes, but I didn't. Instead, I actually did some brainstorming in the car with my husband and let him take notes on his phone while I drove. Then, when I was home later, I pulled out a yellow legal pad and a pen, and wrote things down. I had so many new creative ideas that I had to do something! I don't like to work over the weekends, but I was on fire with new ideas--I couldn't believe it!

There are a million excuses you could come up with for not unplugging, many of which boil down to: what if there's an emergency? Here's my solution: let someone else be the emergency contact for the weekend. My husband had no interest in unplugging, so I let people know I wouldn't be available via Facebook (which--amazingly--didn't crash their system!), and when we went out of town, our friend who was house- and dog-sitting for us texted my husband with any questions. Surely, you have someone who could be an emergency contact for you: a friend, relative, or spouse. You could even take turns and be their emergency contact next weekend.

There was a time before cellphones and most of us survived it. Yes, we got stood up when appointments were written down wrong in our day-planners, and people forgot to get milk at the grocery store. Yes, we had to knock on a stranger's door and ask them to call AAA when our car broke down. If safety is a real concern, keep your phone with you for driving down those lonely country roads, but try keeping it off.

You'll be amazed at how much detaching from technology for a few days can reinvigorate, refresh, and revitalize you. Your family will thank you, and your business will too.

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