Planning a summer vacay with the kids with all your devices in tow? You might want to rethink that last part. Vacations are way more rewarding if you’re in the moment, and that’s hard to do if you’re compulsively checking your text, emails and social feeds. As compiled from Self and Time magazines, simply turn off and make the most of those precious days out of the office by adapting the following suggestions.
Sign-off in person
To reduce any social anxiety, go ahead and pre-emptively inform pals that you won’t be posting or responding to things and you won’t be available on email. That way you won’t feel guilty about anything you miss, and friends and colleagues won’t be expecting a speedy response. Our unplugged update was the last email we sent before turning off and heading out. To go really off the grid, plan your vacation for a destination where there is limited access to email and virtually any other way to be reached. “Regardless of where you go, advise everyone that you will have limited access to email,” advises Roy Cohen, a career coach and the author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide
Make a list and check it twice
If you’re planning a vacation longer than a week, devise a list of what is outstanding and what tasks and responsibilities need to be taken care of, such as where important files are, what might come up while you are away and who can take care of it. Whether it’s a weekend trip or a longer Eid break, its important you remain at ease and spend good quality time with the family. “See what makes sense to delegate or put off until you return. Go over it with your boss and key people who are involved. Knowing you have a plan in place while you’re on vacation will help you enjoy it more,” recommends Kirsi Paalanen, a health coach who specialises in helping corporate professionals manage stress.
Bring maps so you can completely nix the GPS. If you’re constantly turning on your data to navigate, it will be easier to slip into endless scrolling on Facebook. Plus, if you’re travelling with children, make sure to plan out activities for them so they don’t end up getting bored. Think beforehand about ‘downtime’ activities, too. While soaking in the sounds of nature seems ideal, the reality is that it’s tricky being content while doing nothing, especially if you’re not used to the feeling. Resist temptation by bringing something else to do, whether it’s a book, playing cards, a journal or crocheting needles. Visit museums, art galleries, parks and savour your vacay spot’s local cuisines.
Add another step to accessing your apps
If you’re the type to try to sneak some Snapchats when you’re alone, sign out of all of your social and email accounts before you leave the easy access to endless scrolling won’t be so easy. You’ll be prompted to sign in if you open any of these apps on vacation. That extra (and annoying) step will remind you of your original intentions. And switch to airplane mode while you’re at it, too. Get the Moment app: If you absolutely have to be on your phone while you’re on vacay, download Moment to help you limit your mobile time. Moment tracks the time you spend on your phone and allows you to set limits for yourself, offering reminders when you’re getting close to that time limit or when you’ve gone over. It will also alert you when you’ve spent more than 15 minutes at once on your cell.
Shift your focus
If for some reason, you can’t leave the city and jet off to a getaway make use of your time off by engaging in productive and relaxing activities at home. You can join a gym to get fitter on your days off or enroll yourself in a cooking or art class. It can definitely be hard to switch from a jam-packed schedule to totally open days. “If you’re achievement-oriented, build a challenge into your vacation so you engage your mind in a novel way,” says Steven Berglas, PhD, author of Reclaiming the Fire: How Successful People Overcome Burnout. Spending time with your children or bonding with your parents can also keep you busy with the satisfaction of reaching a goal.
Don’t punish yourself for failure
It’s surprising how a lot of people refuse to de-stress or allow themselves an escape from work because of guilt. Move on from mindless negativity and use this time-off to reboot and begin with a fresh start. “You want to be a great professional and parent and partner but all are part-time jobs, and you won’t always be able to be great at all roles. Forgive yourself and don’t feel guilty when you slip up. Just reset your priorities so you can get back to your family and vacation.” George Dow, a career coach who specialises in job transitions.
Prepare for re-entry
Rolling into work after a red-eye or a long summer getaway can leave you tired and anxious. Instead, plan your return trip for a Saturday afternoon or early Sunday so you have a buffer to ease back into everyday life by Monday, suggests Dana Bilsky Asher, PhD, a senior vice-president at The Energy Project, a workplace consultancy. Similarly, block out catch-up time on your calendar for your first day back, so you don’t get booked solid in meetings while you’re away. “I don’t even promise when I’ll reply on my out-of-office message,” Asher says. That way you haven’t set unrealistic expectations and created deadline pressure for yourself.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.