Do bring technology on holiday, but…

I once brought a typewriter on a romantic holiday. Bizarrely, we’re still married. But while I was undeniably stupid then, we are all now quite a bit stupid because we bring the modern equivalent with us everywhere. Plus, nobody tried to send me messages through my typewriter.

Well, Angela did lift it over my head one morning, but.

Along with our newish ability to bring our work with us everywhere has come an insistence that we shouldn’t. That this is all A Bad Thing. But the Harvard Business Review suggests that since we’re going to do it anyway, since we are going to bring this stuff with us and keep checking our screens, let’s at least be smart about it.

The biggest obstacle to disconnecting isn’t technology: it’s your own level of commitment or compulsion when it comes to work. If you work 80 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, you may find it pretty hard to get your head out of the office – and even harder to break the Pavlovian association between hearing the ping of an incoming email and immediately shifting into work brain.

That association is exactly why it’s so useful to develop strategies that put your devices in vacation mode. You probably don’t leave Oreos in the cupboard when you’re dieting; for the same reason, it’s best to put work out of arm’s reach when you’re on vacation. Instead of relying on sheer willpower to keep you from checking in on work, you can use your vacation tech setup – and a little up-front planning – to support your efforts to minimize work time.

With that setup in place, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of online connectivity and digital tools, as well as the benefit of disconnecting from work. And instead of apologizing for bringing a phone on vacation, you’ll be able to relax even with your devices in tow.

The Right Way to Unplug When You’re on Vacation – Alexandra Samuel, Harvard Business Review (15 July 2014)

I’m with Samuel on how it’s less a matter of technology per se and more how we think of this stuff. But she also has specific examples and suggestions in her full piece.

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