According to a piece by the International Business Times, research has shown why we need vacations as well as why we need to shut down our work mental game. As in shut off the smart phones, the laptops, and oh yes, the direct dial to voicemail. It leaves us more rejuvenated, more creative and more energetic when we turn that switch back "on."
Whether it's a short or long break, according to Stephen A. Balzac, founder of 7 Steps Ahead, a management and strategic consulting firm and the author of The 36-Hour Course in Organizational Development, a vacation is meant to be just that: A break from the everyday. He explains, "Taking breaks allows us to view our work with new eyes instead of becoming bored and burned out."
Although it's indeed convenient to quickly check voicemails or e-mails on the plane, train or automobile, Balzac doesn't exactly endorse it. He notes, "When we check our email during vacation, we run the risk of seeing a problem that we feel we have to address and can't from where we are." At worst he notes that "can blow the vacation out of the water." Plus, it may ruin your meal, the rest of the day or even a few days because the problem has been firmly planted in your mind.
Convinced yet? Here are four ways to log off during time off:
1. Develop a "log-off" habit before you jet away
Want to get into good habits? They involve getting rid of bad ones. "By turning off the computer one day of the weekend, I practice turning off under 'controlled conditions.'" For instance, when he went camping with his family earlier this summer, Balzac brought the computer in case he felt the urge to power up but turns out, he didn't log on. He adds, "It feels difficult at first to turn off. That's why practicing is important."
2. Resist the temptation and exercise your brain
Want to log on? Really, do you? "Keep in mind that once you show your co-workers that you're available to help them during your vacation, you can count on them continuing to bug you," notes Balzac. Instead, he reminds us that the brain is indeed a muscle. "Like any exercise, it pays to change it up so we don't get stuck in effective habits." Plus, that muscle needs a break to view your workload from a new perspective and fresh eyes upon returning from that detached vacay.
3. Block out "worry time" on your calendar
If you're really finding it difficult to unwind and detach from the office, Balzac recommends giving yourself 15 minutes to focus on work problems and then get them out of your head. He notes, "Once we've addressed an uncompleted task, even if merely by scheduling time to think about it, we can let it go."
4. Consider the alternative
Losing your BlackBerry in the ocean or ruining a laptop by spilling a drink on it at the beach. For Crackberries, sometimes the only way to let go is to consider the dire consequences of bringing your trusty little device on vacation only to lose it or trash it. Geoff Ballotti, CEO of Wyndham Vacation Rentals, notes the irony. "Don't take your BlackBerries to the beach is a big tip because I can't tell you how many BlackBerries I have ruined being out at the beach because of water or sand. Leave it behind!"
Above all, Ballotti reminds us even if you are tempted to check messages early in the morning or late at night, remember that you told colleagues you were going away in the first place. "You know people know you're on vacation, you know people know you're not going to respond right away." They anticipate you're having a jolly ol' time, sans conference calls and computers.
In other words, enjoy the fleeting freedom.
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