Editor’s Note: This is the second post of a 3-part series on vacations. Click here to read from the beginning.
Do you ever feel completely unplugged from your phone, email, Facebook, or Twitter?
A few years ago, this post would have been about how to unplug from work, but these days we’ve plugged ourselves in so much socially that it is even harder to disconnect and decompress.
First of all, let me reassure you that I’m not a techno-phobe. In fact, I would give up just about anything before I would give up my iPhone. (Okay, you got me there. I’m getting rid of everything anyway!) But creating time away from technology to reconnect with yourself, your partner, or your friends and family can be a rejuvenating experience.
Scheduling in Some Unplugged Time
If you’re always available to everyone, you’re never really off. Some people are okay with that, but if you crave more tranquility in your everyday life or need to practice letting go for vacation, here are some tips to get you started.
- Practice not answering your phone. Turn off the ringer if you have to. If you are not at work and actively engaged in something else – reading, watching a movie, or spending time with a friend – just let it go. At first it will be tough, but after a while you’ll rediscover the value of voicemail.
- Turn off your email. Believe me, your computer will function even if your email is shut down. You can answer it in batches throughout the day instead of responding the second a new email comes in. Get used to focusing on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is not a desirable skill.
- Consider tweeting or updating your Facebook status after the fact instead of before or during. Who wants to go to dinner with someone and have them updating their online status as the courses arrive?
Technology on Vacation
In my experience, bringing a laptop on vacation means we will spend time on it every day. Sometimes this is okay, in the instance of researching things to do or writing, but without some limits you’ll find yourself reading more about the place you are visiting than actually seeing it.
The same holds true with keeping up with things back home. We all like to think we’re indispensible at work, but the truth is we aren’t. If your company can’t be without you for a week, then they aren’t paying you enough or you haven’t set up a good system (or both).
Before you leave on vacation:
- Assign a backup to take your calls and meetings.
- Let your manager handle any emergencies (that’s what she’s there for).
- Leave a detailed “out of office” autoresponder and outgoing voicemail so people clearly know where to go for help.
“I’ll be out of the office until June 15 on vacation. If your request is not urgent, I’ll respond when I get back. If you need help before then, please contact the following people:
Clients: Call Customer Service at 123-456-7890 and speak to Joe Smith. You can also email him at [email protected] I’ve given him a detailed list of your current projects and he would be happy to help you.
Vendors: Contact Sue Jones at 234-567-8901 or email her at [email protected]
Project Team: Please post all questions to the team message board so I can review when I return.
To escalate any issue, contact my manager Jill Adams at 345-678-9012 or by email at [email protected]
- Alert your boss, coworkers, and clients to anything that might come up while you’re gone and how to resolve it. Give it to them in writing, even if you start out with a phone call.
- Let your friends and family know you’ll be out of the loop for a few days but will have great stories and pictures when you return. People don’t care if they get your vacation pictures the day of or a week later. Trust me on this.
Finding the Right Balance
Technology is a great thing. I love having an iPhone when traveling, especially for the Urban Spoon app to find great restaurants. So I’m not a fan of going without communication when on vacation or relaxing. The key is knowing when you are using technology and when you are hostage to technology. The first is a great tool, the second makes you look like a tool.
Remember, you worked hard for this vacation. Take some time to enjoy it so you can call, text, blog, email, and Tweet about it when you get back.
Betsy Talbot writes about carving the lifestyle you want out of life you already have. When she’s not writing, she’s paring down, saving up, and getting ready for a year of travel with her husband.