Daniel Sieberg’s guest blog post tackles that modern problem we all struggle with: how to switch off on holiday. Whether you’re going screen-free altogether, or simply cutting down (because no-one wants to get between a teenage girl and her mobile phone), Daniel Sieberg offers some useful tips for your summer holiday, to help you step away from the screen and into the sun.
Planning for any holiday these days often brings up a digital-era dilemma: how to enjoy being out of the office without being totally out of touch? And is it better to completely disconnect or keep one finger plugged into the online world? Just like “The Digital Diet,” there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach to solving this question but there are ways you can at least minimize any high-tech interference while soaking up some rays.
First, create a customized away message for your work email with specific guidance on what people should expect from you. In other words, if you tell people you will not be online and won’t be responding to emails then stick to it– anything less than complete adherence creates a slippery slope of expectations from other people and erodes separation from your inbox. Should you prefer to check email on occasion then say you’ll do just that with the understanding that your response times may be delayed.
Next, think about which devices you really need to bring. Lugging around every phone and tablet and “phablet” you own will only mean increased diversions. Try to consolidate your content (books, movies, games) so you can minimise the distractions but still have some entertainment for when the weather turns sour or you just want to kick back for a bit. There’s no shame in using your devices for an occasional distraction provided you aren’t going on safari or ignoring someone around you who expects your attention (this is key to enhanced marital relations).
It’s also worth considering a strategy for the family unit as a whole. For example, the kids (and parents) can each bring one (or two) devices but no one is allowed to have them out during meals or sightseeing unless it’s to take photos. Think of creative ways to incentivise it, too, like offering an ice-cream or more spending cash if they stick to the rules. Cutting out technology entirely with most kids means there’ll be pushback and depriving them of all connectedness might result in more family conflict than closeness. As such, it’s worth exploring the idea of moderation with the caveat that as a parent you’ll need to be more available to interact with them rather than letting the screens do all the work.
With any travel or vacation I’d also suggest a few standard “Digital Diet” rules to live by:
- don’t charge any devices you bring in the bedroom– it’s too much of a temptation and only means you’ll be endlessly interrupted
- try to enjoy an exhilarating moment fully in person first before feeling the need to post it on social media
- take some time to improve your own sense of well-being whether it’s yoga or reading or simply observing what’s around you; a little zen-like focus can be a powerful way to get grounded before going back to the daily grind
Remember, too, that we often falsely amplify any demands on our time and the urgency with which we communicate. If you don’t check email every 15 minutes then your co-workers will still survive. The world will carry on. And they’ll probably just be jealous that you’re likely having an amazing time. We all need to decompress once in a while and I often talk to employees about having renewed perspective by getting some temporary distance.
Finally, if you really need help to detach from all the cords then you might want to consider a vacation somewhere that affords no access to the internet or a tech-free retreat. The charity Anxiety UK released a study that found 60 per cent of us need to fully disconnect to begin to really relax and get a true break. Just be prepared to dig through more emails upon your return since of course we know that hitting the pause button won’t make it all go away.
But you can go back feeling more invigorated than ever to surf the digital waves away from the beach.
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