A new “device” called the NoPhone is designed to encourage people to reevaluate how they interact with their technology. It’s a single piece of plastic the same size as a smartphone. It doesn’t send or receive emails, take pictures, or do anything at all. It’s a perfect device for those looking to disconnect over the holidays. Here are some other suggestions for how to make your vacation an actual vacation in the truest sense of the word.
Leave the laptop at home. It is your tether to the digital world. It’s where Twitter, Facebook, email, and all order of time-sucking mayhem lives. This is not for you when you’re on vacation time. Make it a non-issue by not packing it in the first place. Leave it at the office where it belongs.
You can bring your phone, but delete your work email from it. It’s the same principle as above. If you don’t have access to work correspondence, you won’t work. As easy as that. Set up your autoresponder ahead of time, tell people you’ll be off the grid for a little bit, and enjoy yourself knowing that the emails can always wait.
Work ahead before taking off. Why not throw in a little extra effort before taking off for more relaxing climes? An extra hour of work for a week before you leave simultaneously sets you up for less to do upon your return and sends the signal to your superiors that you appreciate what it means to be gone from work. And don’t think bosses don’t notice this — they always do.
Give yourself a fun, lighthearted vacation “project.” Maybe you want to learn a new language or skill. Finish your novel, paint a painting, or just go fishing every day. We spend so much of our work lives dealing with structure that it can counterintuitively get overwhelming to see nothing but empty calendar days ahead of you and no proper sense of how to fill them.
Assign someone at work to be your gatekeeper. It should be a person you work with closely and who has a sense of your priorities, what actually constitutes an emergency worth butting into your vacation for. All requests for your attention should be routed through this person while you’re on vacation, and only if your gatekeeper agrees that it’s important should that request find its way to you during your precious vacation hours.
That pretty much covers it — you spend a lot more time at work than on vacation, so be sure to take this stuff seriously. You’ll remember an exciting trip to a tropical island for much longer than you’ll remember a Wednesday afternoon in the office.