If you have some time off planned and wish to avoid distractions during your vacation, then check out my tips below. These are very simple to begin with and have worked amazingly, but they are personal for my use and each person must decide for whether they work for them. Also, some may only work for certain trips but not all, i.e beach vs. trekking.
The vacation we deserve
Vacations are meant to disconnect, reenergize and catch up on family quality time but this isn’t always so; we are always connected, work during our travels, stress about our overflowing inbox and piled up tasks, and let constant distractions ruin our vacations.
It doesn’t have to be this way!
I just returned from an amazing family vacation and feel absolutely refreshed. Better yet, the world didn’t end, my inbox didn’t blow up, and my work didn’t suffer.
It was easy!
Prep to avoid distractions
Our smartphones continuously ring, buzz and vibrate, constantly distracting us from…watching a movie, playing with our kids, savoring that Margarita and (add your own).
So why not avoid them?
- No data plan: my wife and I decided not to order a data plan for our trip abroad which ultimately restricted our internet activity to the hotel’s limited connectivity only.
- No laptop: having the laptop allows you to work accustomed to the office. If you considered bringing it for entertainment purposes, then a tablet will do the trick and avoid you falling into regular work habits.
- Airplane mode: throughout the trip, my phone was in airplane mode. This avoided unwanted calls (which would cost a ton when roaming abroad) and distractions, and I was still able to schedule a call by Skype or Whatsapp if needed.
- Office preparation: each has its own method but in short, let your clients, colleagues/supporting staff, management in on your upcoming trip ahead of time, along with a list of details, procedures and possible scenarios, so everything can be taken care of without you for the vacation window. If emergencies arise, you’re available (limited), and these are overrated anyways…things manage.
- Appropriate work times: some of us have a Fear of Missing OUT (FOMO) and others must check daily to see the sky hasn’t fallen, so set yourself time on the side for this specifically. Do not combine this within your day rather have a separate slot just for work duties. This has several benefits:
- You separate family and work times and can focus accordingly on each
- Work slot allows you to work correctly not to do a half-assed job. Instead of a 30-second email taking 10 minutes and coming out crap, you can focus properly, attend tasks efficiently, and get things done much more productively. And furthermore, sometimes you shouldn’t answer emails as soon as received.
- our distributed teams, coworkers, clients, and managers are aware (based on what you shared) when you will be available. So instead of blasting you with several emails as if you are in the office, you can check things off quickly and efficiently in a short slot.
- Make yourself unreachable
I didn’t fake my disappearance, but along with all the steps above, I left my phone in the room’s safe throughout the day and stay. This kept me from checking for Wifi, working on emails while offline, and being connected instead of vacationing.
Of course, if you do not have a standalone camera, then your albums would be limited without your phone. But your kids will be looking at you, and not the back of your smartphone throughout the day.
Bonus: post vacation
Some of us stress and worry on the condition of our inbox when we return, so we get into our email during the vacation to clean and prep it pre-return. Use time allotted to work for this task but limit so to no more than 10 minutes, as to avoid doing more than is a must. Also go over the actionable back from vacation inbox strategy given by Nathan Zeldes, that is for coming back from a trip or a long weekend.
One of the best vacations…ever!
Some of my methods are a bit strict and aren’t a fit for all individuals nor vacation types. But in the end, they helped me soak up my time out of the office in ways I haven’t in a long time.
Besides it being a long overdue vacation, it was relaxing, less stressful and I was re-energized upon my return to work. In addition, family time was of true quality as I avoided distractions and was able to focus on them, our activities, and they felt so as well.
Yes, it does feel weird walking without my phone, and I checked my pocket often as if I felt a smartphone notification vibrate…only to find an empty pocket. But this further strengthens the reason to take a break from the phone; maybe I will start doing this while at home and not on vacation only.