Vacation Ritual for the 21st Century

No one can stay connected all the time. It isn’t healthful, and it isn’t practical. You don’t have to travel to put healthy distance between yourself and your work. Sometimes, you just need to unplug.

My work life has been pretty hectic the past few months. I love the work that I do and I have recently had the chance to take on new, complex, interesting challenges. Still, I have run myself a little ragged. The term “overclocked” keeps passing through my head lately.

So today I am starting a much needed vacation, one week plus a few extra days to carry past my daughter’s sixth birthday. When I leave work for more than a day, I leave good people in charge and trust my team to make good decisions. I try to make myself available by phone and/or email in case of emergencies. Emergencies don’t often arise in the library. Still, I often monitor email while on vacation just to “”keep up with things”. This is crazy. I don’t need to keep up with things while on vacation. Not keeping up with things is pretty much the point of taking a vacation.

When I got home today, I decided to try something new. I disconnected my work email account from my phone. I can still scroll through my email once  in the evening, if I want. But the act of physically disconnecting my phone from work email felt really good. When email is too accessible, there is an irrational urge to check it often. Unplugging my work email from my phone prevents me from feeling the temptation to check it. Making work email inconvenient while on vacation makes “checking in” or “staying connected” feel less necessary.

I know I’m not that important. My team gets along fine without me. I know they will call if something  important actually happens that needs my immediate attention.

In the meantime, disconnecting for a little while is the only way to really get the benefit of time off. Do what you can to stop thinking about work when you aren’t at work so you can actually rest. Then, you can return more vital and focused, ready to pick up the work you left off, accomplishing stuff that matters.

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