If you are planning to take a vacation or even a staycation this summer, start thinking and planning on how you will unplug from technology to get the maximum benefits from your time off. But how is that possible when the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers reports in its annual Internet Trends report that smartphone users pick up their device 150 times a day? These are some pointers for making your next vacation technology-free.
Have A Plan
You'll need to delegate your work or set up a backup plan to ensure your absence doesn't leave a gaping hole in the organization. Talk to your manager well in advance about your vacation and set a mutually beneficial strategy for managing your workload while you are gone. Don't wait until the last minute. Setting up a plan in advance communicates you are responsible and care about the work you do. Plus, you're less likely to stress over being gone knowing that there is someone to handle emergencies.
Clearly communicate you will not be available and stick to it. Set your email to "out of office" and create a new message for your voice mail. Your messages should provide the dates you will be away and whom to contact for urgent business. Make it a seamless process for your customer by providing the email and phone number of the substitute.
Hold Fast to Your Resolve
For you to reap the benefits of your unplugged vacation, you're going to need to set up some things so you aren't tempted and lured into tech habits. Here are some preventative measures to take:
1. Bring an old-fashioned camera. If you normally snap photos with your phone, bring a digital camera. You won't be tempted to share that great shot with friends (through social networks) if you don't have access.
2. Take a book. Leave your reading device at home and pick up a good old-fashioned book or stock up on your favorite magazines. Again, you won't be tempted to check the Internet if it isn't available.
3. Wear a watch. One of the top three reasons people use their phones, according to the Internet Trends report, is to check the time. Eliminate that need by wearing a watch.
4. Set a time to check voice mail. It may still be necessary for you to respond to urgent voice mail messages. Designate one time during the day when you will check your voice mail to respond to emergencies.
Is all this preparation really worth it to take an unplugged vacation? Maybe. Ask yourself this question: When was the last time you really felt rejuvenated and refreshed? If you can't remember, then you've got your answer. In fact, there are even more benefits to disconnecting during your time off.
Extra time. Imagine all the time you could have back if you weren't picking up your smartphone to check email, voice mail and Facebook.
Focus. It is hard enough to stay focused given the myriad of thoughts and ideas running around in our heads. The constant buzz of online connectivity add to the thousands of things you're already thinking about.
Happy, healthy and creative. The best benefits of unplugging include your mental and physical health. Setting aside time for just you is reason to celebrate. It feels good to focus on your needs and relationships, and isn't it long overdue? You may find yourself more physically active by not being tethered to your computer. Finally, your creativity can increase without all the digital distractions. This is according to a small study published in the PLOSone journal and reported on Huffington Post, which shows a 50 percent increase in creativity scores among those who went without their electronics for four days while on wilderness hiking trips.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.
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