Out of Office: Tips and Tricks To Really Unplug

By Catherine Lang-Cline

You have actually booked the vacation that you really need and find yourself constantly checking in. Three days into your trip and you have not relaxed at all. Your family is begging you to plug into them instead of work. I mean, you needed a break from this right? Because technology makes it so easy to stay connected we all struggle with being disconnected. Here are a few tips and tricks you can try so you can actually get the rest and relaxation you deserve.

  1. If you must, set up some time to check in. Wake up an hour before your family does to reply to any necessary emails or to return any calls. When everyone up us and ready to go, you are done. Don’t make them wait. Go! And don’t check on anything again until the end of the day when everyone is unwinding. Really decide if you absolutely need to reply or if it can wait until you get back. People don’t always need an immediate answer. Personally, I have been scolded by clients and staff for replying to emails on my vacation.

  2. Turn off your alerts or volume on your phone. Turning your phone completely off may not be realistic because you do want to capture some great photos and in an actual emergency, you might want to be reached. If it is work that is calling, don’t answer. Waiting for a more appropriate time t return the call, it is not going to stop the wheels of progress to return a call a bit later.

  3. Leave all of your work in capable hands. Try and tie up any loose ends before you head out and leave another person as a contact for any issues. Let this person vet any issues that need to be pushed to you and then trust them to handle everything else. Be in a “contact me if you absolutely need me” mode and discover that things will be okay for three, six, or ten days.

  4. You like a good investment, so invest in you. Accept the fact that if you really go on vacation or take any kind of real break that when you return, you will be more productive, think more clearly, and be a lot more effective. Not thinking about work and exercising your brain in a different way will break you out of ruts and the status quo. You will return with a refresh that will only help the business. Maybe putting it this way will force you to think differently about work.

  5. No time to even plan a trip or a few days off? Have someone else do it for you. Contact a travel agent, recruit your friend, spouse, partner, or child to pick some days and plan a trip. Tell them where, when, and how is the best way for you to recharge or get away. Maybe it is a place with no internet coverage? Did I just make you freak out a bit? Mark the calendar and stick to it even if you have to plan way out a few months, get it on there.

The final thing I will say about this is that you MUST take time off. Do it. You have earned it and you would probably never advise someone not to take a little time for themselves. This message comes from a person that understands the grind of getting it done, do more, work harder, work faster. It wasn’t until I realized how much it benefited the business to get away and regroup did I become a preacher of this message. I also needed time off that was at least five days plus the weekends that connected to those days. The first three I always struggle with checking in, but by day four I could feel myself pulling away and recharging. Most of all, no one at the end of their life says that they wished they put in more hours at work but they do say that they wished they spent more time doing more in life. Now, what days are looking good to get a recharge?