A disconnect all professionals need
James M. Berklan
Heading out on vacation soon? No? If not, well maybe you ought to be. No, you know you ought to be. One way or another, you should be getting away from the office sometime soon, but you're probably going to do a poor job of it.
Not that you want to flunk Vacation 101, that is. It's just that you love your smartphone and Internet accessibility too much to truly let go.
On one level, that's a good thing. Conscientiousness is desirable. It's a bit like the discussions during recent World Cup soccer action about how American players are far less likely to “flop” (fake being fouled) than other players around the world. A bit of righteous pride can be a good thing.
Then again, when you're contracting with yourself, or your loved ones or friends, to get some free time, you need to honor that commitment. That means if you shouldn't be goofing around at work, you also shouldn't be working when you're cleared to be goofing off.
I'm not going to slow your reading of this with a bunch of cutesy hotlinks that either seriously or whimsically illustrate my point. You can Google them yourself if you wish. It's been proven on many levels that workers in the U.S. and places like Japan don't give themselves enough true free time away from work. And it comes at a price, although the toll might not show right away with a dollar sign or yen marking on a tag.
I'm not immune to the allure of the smartphone, either. I type from no high moral ground. There was a time when I was flattered if my wife said I was acting with youthful vigor. Now she usually says it when I'm intently tapping out a work email on my phone or looking up something online. Guilty as charged.
That's why I am actually going to bend on what I wrote above and pass along a hotlink. It's to perhaps the most valuable article you'll read this week. It's a bit involved, but not the way you might first think for something from vaunted “Hah-vahd.”
Click here for “The Right Way to Unplug When You're on Vacation.” This Harvard Business Review blog post is worth the effort, should the site ask you to fill out a free registration form. (It's not clear as to how encompassing they are on that.)
And, yes, the article even allows that maybe you are so important that you will have to check email or messages while on vacation. But it gives excellent strategy for how to do it. (And avert it, of course.)
Much like the clever movie you never want to see end, pay attention to the after-story. The reader comments section, for example, was a good bonus yesterday.
Let me share with you a sage comment from one Mr. pklipp:
“I just got back from a two-week disconnected vacation and all I did was bring nothing electronic with me. My email auto-response message was ‘I am on vacation with no intention of accessing the Internet. I didn't bring a phone. The police might be able to find me, but don't count on it and certainly not in time to do any good. If you have to make a difficult decision because of that, I hope you don't feel uncomfortable and just accept that it's my fault for putting you in that position.'”
The outcome, according to Mr. pklipp?:
“It worked like a charm.”
James M. Berklan is McKnight's Editor. Follow him @LTCEditorsDesk.