A friend of mine just returned from vacation and complained her husband spent the entire trip on his smartphone checking email and making work calls. She was furious with him!
Summer vacation is crucial for work life balance. But there is a tendency to stay connected with work because no one wants to feel so buried in email when they return that they wish they had stayed home.
Which is why going on vacation requires a lot of planning, negotiation and compromise. With our smartphones tempting us to “check in,” jetting to an exotic location or exploring a state park is much more complicated than it was years ago when we truly took vacations without staying connected.
One of the tricky parts of vacationing today is doing so in a way that is compatible with your travel partner or your family. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting in a lounge chair trying to relax while your spouse is on his or her phone talking to a colleague about a work dilemma. If you’re the one who wants to stay connected while traveling, it can be stressful trying to hide it from a significant other, a friend, or children who find it disruptive to the flow of the vacation.
The key is deciding upfront how connected you want to be, planning for it with your fellow travelers and sticking to your plan.
Dana Brownlee, founder of Atlanta-based Professionalism Matters, a national corporate consulting company, has developed the '95% unplugged vacation model with tips for how to manage your time off for optimum success. She wants us all to strive to be only 5 percent plugged in. That's just enough to stay on top of things without being annoying or ruining your vacation. Here are her six tips:
1. Get Your Significant Other On Board. Get agreement from your spouse/partner upfront that you will work (but only 5 percent) so that he or she is not glaring at you if you take a conference call while playing kickball on the beach.
2. Know When to Say No. Don't take a conference call while playing kickball on the beach! Remember, the plan is 5% business - just enough to keep your sanity, respond to emergencies, and keep operations flowing. Still set an out of office message indicating minimal access to email/voicemail
with appropriate back up information.
3. Set a specified amount of "check in time." No more than this amount
of time, and definitely less if you can manage it.
4. Use Family Downtime Wisely. Only "check in" or conduct business activities during family downtime (e.g. kids are asleep or husband has taken the kids to get a pizza). Remember there is a difference between shooing the family away so that you can edit that document vs. scanning your emails
after they themselves have decided to go pick up a pizza.
5. Don't bring laptops or other devices that might encourage work. The idea is that you shouldn't PLAN to do any work. Only allow yourself to respond to communications as absolutely needed to maintain your sanity and keep things afloat in your absence.
6. Know when to pull back. If anyone in your family starts complaining, you're probably beyond the 5% mark so pull back and refocus.
Whether you go somewhere, or just stay home, downtime in the summer is pretty important to getting through the rest of the year more motivated and energized. Enjoy!
Dana Brownlee on vacation with her family, enjoying herself and not plugged in!