It’s hard to leave work behind at the end of the day – especially when smartphones make it so easy to check what’s happening anytime. And the more you do so, the more of a habit it becomes – a quick glance on the train home, a swift check while watching TV in the evening, a final look before going to bed… In fact, before you know it, you might be constantly checking in with the office, no matter where you are.
Of course, this kind of technology has plenty of advantages – not least giving you the flexibility to work where and when you choose. However, it can cause a problem when it comes to switching off. Plenty of people now not only find themselves becoming more stressed during the run-up to their holiday, trying to get everything finished before turning on their out of office, but regularly dipping into work while they’re actually away too.
If this sounds like you, read our tips for making your next holiday a digital escape.
There’s more to a holiday enjoying quality time with your partner and children than simply leaving your smartphone switched off (though that will certainly help) – it’s as much about good preparation as anything else.
Naturally, as your holiday approaches, you’ll be trying to tie up loose ends and finish projects. Before rushing to do so, take a step back and evaluate what really needs doing before you go. For example, there might be projects that will not progress while you’re away anyway because other key members of staff aren’t available. Or, some tasks may simply be unachieveable in that timeframe. Try to make a list of what is both necessary and realistic, and stick to that.
To that end, it’s best to keep the day or two before you go away as free from meetings as possible. This way, you can focus on getting what’s necessary done without adding unduly to your to-do list. It’s also a good idea to book your first day back as a meeting-free day – this will give you an opportunity to catch up with minimal interruptions. Knowing you have that time set aside will help make going back to work less daunting, and by extension, your holiday more relaxing.
Another good tip is to make a short to-do list for when you get back. This can help keep you focused on your priorities and make sure you don’t feel lost for where to start once you return. Again, this creates a little extra peace of mind for a happier holiday.
Digital? Don’t pack it
There is no simpler way to give yourself a break from your smartphone, laptop or tablet than by not packing it. However, this is probably far easier achieved with laptops and tablets (though the children might want these for entertainment on the plane!) than with smartphones, simply because you’re probably more reliant on your phone. You might feel you need it to translate restaurant menus, for example, or to navigate new places.
So, pack as little as you can – but what you must pack, try to use as little as possible. Aim only to pull out your phone for the essentials, and don’t be tempted to check your work email in the middle of a memorable family day out.
Sever the work connection
Of course, staving off the temptation can be easier said than done if your work emails are permanently linked up to your smartphone. If that’s the case, sever the connection for the duration of your holiday. After all, it’s hard to escape work if you’re still being notified every time you get a message!
Rope in the whole family
Turning your family holiday into a digital escape involves more than just you. Encourage your partner and children to follow suit and put away the smartphones and tablets for the duration of your trip. If all of you manage it, you’re far more likely to have a proper break from the digital world and spend more quality time together as a family. It’s surprising just how much of a difference taking away those distractions can make.
Make the most of the fact that you and your family are smartphone and tablet-free by indulging in a few activities that allow you to spend some quality time together. Why not enjoy a scenic bike ride along the coast, for example, followed by a picnic lunch? Or spend a day exploring historic ruins, imagining what the world was like in their heyday? Anything that gives you the opportunity to make some memories and have fun together – uninterrupted and distraction-free.
When you return home
Having a break from technology for a week or two can do you the world of good – especially if you take a few lessons from it home with you. For example, it’s likely that once you switch on your phone or laptop, you’ll discover that you haven’t missed anything important. While you can’t always ignore your phone or emails, you probably don’t need to check them as much as you think – and doing so less will free up more time for you to spend time with your family and doing things you enjoy.