It's the time of year where vacations increase. Many grade school aged children have a week or so off for spring break
and so many parents take time to travel. Gearing up for vacation can be a
stressful time for many executive and sales people. The thought of being away
from the office, away from email, or away from the telephone for any extended period
of time, creates a feeling that something will happen while you’re gone or
something will not get done as it should. Now, I’m sure your immediate reaction
is, take your smartphone with you. You can go on vacation and remain connected
to work, your employees, your clients, etc. But, I challenge you with this
question, are you truly enjoying your time with your family and are you
recharging your own battery?
We live in a connected world. Not only
do we connect to social media, news media, email, text, files in the office,
telephone call calls, etc. all from our handheld devices, at some point those
devices need to have their batteries charged. We plugin or connect, re-juice
the battery, and away we go with our connected world. Sometimes we are too
connected. I’m as guilty as the next parent in the case of pulling out my
smartphone during one of my kid’s sporting events. I’ve checked Facebook or
answered a text from an employee while awaiting my turn at the annual
parent-teacher meeting. It bothers me, it really does, but I’m connected.
I learned a hard lesson about six years
ago when I went on vacation with my wife and children and stayed connected. Not
every day, but every other day, I connected to my office. I checked email,
called my assistant, worked on a contract, and even skipped an event with the
kids to talk with a prospect via conference call. That did not sit well…with
me. I realized that vacation was stressing me out more than being in the
office. I was trying to make sales calls, close deals, while spending time on the
beach with my young children. I saw it in their eyes…c’mon dad finish up so we
can do things with you. I vowed during that trip to change.
From that point on I vowed to limit my connectivity
to the digital world around me. I disconnected to recharge. I’m not sure I coined
this phrase or overheard it from someone else, but I’ve used it ever since. I’m
an early-riser and so on subsequent vacations I would only check email once per
day early in the morning before others were awake. I turned off automatic email
notifications and forced myself to login. I also turned the phone off during
the day. Whether sitting on a beach in Florida or skiing in Utah, what phone
call could I receive that would be more important that the time I was spending
in those moments with my family. It was easier to do than I initially thought.
Like eating potato chips though, you need to have the willpower to NOT check
your phone constantly.
A few weeks back I was talking with my
friend Jonathan. Jonathan has done some traveling with his family, a vacation
here and there, but now that his kids are older, they are going on a “real
spring break”. Jonathan was a bit nervous to leave for a full week. He was
anxious and looking forward to the trip, so he said, but he was very busy with
work. It seems he was trying to plan ahead for being gone, but as each day
passed the workload increased, not decreased. My advice to Jonathan was this:
do what you can before you go, the rest will be waiting when you return, and if
you really want to relax and enjoy your family time, disconnect to recharge.
Jonathan didn’t wait for his return to
work to call me, he called me on his drive home from the airport, and all he
said was “thanks”. Apparently, the idea of disconnecting to recharge worked
out. The first day or two was a little difficult. The kids were fighting with
each other and he had a hard time relaxing at first. Then, before he knew it,
all was peaceful. He had a great trip and spent time with his kids playing and
exploring. He checked in with his office from time-to-time, but never during
the day or evening when it was family time. He disconnected to a point he
called “98.9%”. Well, that is a lot more than he thought would happen.
In our ultra-connected world, it really
is okay to disconnect here and there, especially if it means you’ll recharge
your own battery. Plan ahead for your downtime. Turn off the outside noise or
influences, realize your own business world will not stop because you’re gone for
a few days. And relax (or try your best to relax). Disconnect to recharge.