Summer is here once again and so are vacations–days off, long weekends, or a multiple-week haitus from going into the workplace. It’s called “vacation” for a reason. I notice that far too many colleagues remain accessible while they are purportedly on vacation. Having recently taken my first disconnect-from-all-things-work in a long time, I became aware of the pressure to remain available via technology, especially email. Technology, while eliminating reams of paperwork, is supposed to make life easier. Instead, technology has created connection junkies who can be reached at any time. This is NOT vacation.
When discussing with my husband about arriving at the airport too early before our flight, he had suggested that I could use the time to email. “Right,” I told him, “and go against everything my automatic email vacation response says. While I multi-task very well in my work life, I was unwilling to carry this addictive behavior into my vacation. I could not focus on relaxing and decompressing while thinking about work issues.
A well-earned vacation lets us rest up for the next round of work challenges. It prevents burn-out. And remember that our vacation, as much for our benefit, gives our colleagues a break from us. So how can we disconnect when there exists much pressure to check in or be available during our vacation?
- Set the healthy boundary: on vacation means on vacation – you must respect your vacation time if you want others to respect it.
- Disconnect – remove email from your phone so you aren’t even tempted to check it or check in.
- Find other ways to fill your downtime or waiting time connecting with flights, etc. – read a book or journal, for example.
- Be in the moment and present to the experience of your surroundings – take pictures.
- Remember that the workplace will survive your absence. And if it cannot survive your absence, you’re overworked. They may need to hire someone else!
- Focus – on you, on your state of being, on how good it feels in the now, and to not have to think about work.
Now go enjoy your time off!