As I write this I’m at a beautiful resort in Albuquerque. While some of my time has been spent in meeting rooms, I’ve also been able to enjoy the beautiful scenery outdoors here in New Mexico. Thanks to technology, I’ve kept up on email while away from my office and have taken several calls, as well.
Whenever I travel, I observe others (myself included) checking their cell phones and working on their tablets. Research is showing that many check their email more than 100 times a day. Five years ago that number would have surprised me–unfortunately, not any more. We live in a day and age where we are literally connected 24-7. It wasn’t always like this.
Remember the days when we took vacations? I mean real vacations. Our phones were answered by humans who handled any situation that came up during our absence and we came back completely rested and rejuvenated from time away. Now, we find it too difficult to take real vacations because digging out from hundreds of emails and voicemails upon our return is such an unpleasant thought. The alternative is to check our email throughout our vacation, which isn’t appreciated by our loved ones, nor does it allow us to mentally disengage from the very thing we need a vacation from! It’s a nasty Catch-22.
I will confess I find it difficult to unplug. Yet, I know the importance of unplugging not only during vacation, but during other times. My husband and I recently took a trip to Costa Rica. When he told me he was leaving his cell phone at home, I laughed and said “You’re joking, right?” He gave me the look that said he wasn’t and then came back at me with, “Please tell me you’re not planning on being connected during our trip.” I stammered to come up with an appropriate response, but missed the mark.
After some careful consideration (for my marriage as well as my personal enjoyment), I came to the wise decision that the world would not end if I unplugged for eight days and relied on auto-responders and voicemail to let others know I was unavailable for a short time.
I was surprised that after a mere 24 hours in Costa Rica, I was “in the moment.” I wasn’t craving my email, nor did I feel the urge to sneak to the business center to check in on things. I was pleasantly surprised–and my hubby was happy too.
In Costa Rica, they have a saying called “Pura Vida.” It means Plenty of Life or Full of Life. And thanks to my willingness and ability to unplug, I definitely experienced it.
So, unplugging during vacation is one thing, but what about unplugging for a short time each day? What would happen if you SHUT OFF your phone for one hour each evening over dinner, or while helping the kids with homework or while playing a game with the family?
As a recent Sales Manager told me, “I’m not a brain surgeon. What I do doesn’t save lives. Yes, I employ a lot of people. Yes, I have a lot of responsibilities. But no one will die if I refuse to read and/or respond to email from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.” She definitely had a healthy approach to balancing work and home.
I want to be like her when I grow up.