It used to be hard to find a pay phone to call my parents for a ride home from school. Then it was hard to find a wi-fi connection anywhere but 20 feet from my home router. Now you can tether your laptop to your phone’s 3G signal with bluetooth in the middle of the desert, my niece has a cell phone, and my dad is on Facebook. But as connected as we are, it’s important to take some time to disconnect for your own sanity.
I’ve posted about my nights and weekends plan before (not my phone, my wife’s mandatory hard-stop on my productivity when she walks in the door after work). But as great as that routine is, I suggest that everyone take it a step further every couple of months.
Turn off your phone. They actually do turn off. This weekend, we took a trip down to Southern Arizona wine country, iPhone free. No checking email, and no “checking in”. It’s liberating to turn it off every once in a while, as long as you prepare in advance.
Share your plan. Be extra available before your getaway, and encourage people to ask you everything they need to before your planned escape.
Set an auto-responder. You can’t anticipate everything that might come up, so I recommend setting up a vacation auto-responder and changing your voicemail message, particularly if you’ll be gone during normal work hours. (Auto-responders aren’t just for vacation either. Set one up next time you want to take a day to catch up on a backlog of work, so that you don’t feel compelled to answer anyone.)
Ignore the world. No TV, newspapers, self-help books, or anything that connects you to your regular life. If something important happened, you’ll hear about it eventually.
Use the last day to ease back in. Don’t come back from vacation at midnight and be in meetings the next morning. You’re bound to accumulate a lot of junk while you’re away, so dedicate a day to catching up, getting reorganized, and easing back in before anyone knows that you’re back.
If you’ve built up vacation days and haven’t used them, what are you waiting for? If you own a business, when is the last time you stopped thinking about it? Do yourself a favor and disappear for a day.