Ah, summer: abundant sunshine, warm temperatures, fresh veggies and fruits, a chance to slow down and savor. The time to leave your phone behind and enjoy a vacation with the family.
You might be thinking: “Wait, what? Leave my phone behind?! This can’t be done!”
But it can. Maybe not for a whole week, but certainly for the bulk of a vacation day. This spring I was fortunate to attend the Masters golf tournament with my brother. And guess what? There are no phones allowed! At first I was shocked when my brother told me we had to leave our phones in the car. But as the day progressed, it was heavenly to be disconnected. People actually talked to each other and – get this – made eye contact instead of our usual conversations where we are looking at our phones while talking. We saw some fantastic golf and took in the beautiful scenery. We had to watch the leader board to get updates on the scores. How wonderfully old-fashioned and steeped in tradition it was. It really felt like a different world; sort of a slow-motion day.
The day at the Masters was a blueprint for how a vacation should be – disconnected from the world, spending time with family and friends, slowing down and enjoying new scenery. With our smartphones and all the innovations in mobility and connectivity, we can work anywhere, anytime. Yes, it is helpful, but there needs to be a boundary. All of this being on and being available is wearing us down.
I know that keeping weekends and vacations reserved as downtime is challenging for many. I have conversations with every one of my coaching clients about the importance of downtime, the need to replenish ourselves. I challenge them to not check email while they are on vacation, and to use ALL of their vacation days in a given year.
Here are some tips for unplugging and taking a real vacation:
- Provide updates to your boss and direct reports on the progress of your projects. If they know where things stand, they are better able to handle questions that arise while you are gone (and hopefully they won’t bug you while you are sunning by the pool)
- Give yourself a buffer day on your first day back to work. Don’t schedule meetings. Use the day to catch up on emails, find out the status of projects and check in with your coworkers
- Try not to over plan your vacation. Carve out some idle time
- Start a conversation at your workplace about the norms, either spoken or unspoken, around vacations. Do people really need to always be reachable? How can you set people up for having a real vacation without checking back in at work? How can you make it okay to unplug and reduce the guilt and anxiety that can be felt while away?
We all need a real rest from time to time. We are actually more productive when we take a break to recharge. We are also happier and less stressed.
So, schedule a break. Disconnect the electronics and reconnect with friends and family. Incorporate some downtime to replenish your reserves. Take a vacation, and savor the summer.