Why it’s important to unplug sometimes
I recently went on a two-week holiday to Thailand and Cambodia, which was pretty magical. Before I left, one of the things I was most looking forward to (besides the white-sand beaches, daily massages and sunset cocktails – I know, I don’t like me very much either right now) was unplugging. Not checking email, or even Facebook (I know).
I set my out-of-office, and, in a moment that should have had a soundtrack of trumpets, deactivated my work email on my phone. And just like that, before I’d even stepped on the plane, I was on holiday.
Because I’m still adjusting to using my brain at full capacity again, here are a few thoughts on the topic of unplugging in bullet-form (sorry, can’t paragraph right now):
– I thought it would be easy to escape The Internet off the beaten track. Wrong. Wifi is everywhere these days. Even busses in Cambodia offer free wifi on long-haul trips. So while I managed not to check work email, I did succumb to Facebook and Instagram. Facebook only very briefly. Instagram slightly more. But still – I didn’t sit and scroll through my feeds. In fact, the idea of this wasn’t remotely appealing. So I’m calling this one a victory.
– When work is not just a job, but your own business, it’s pretty difficult to disconnect mentally and emotionally, and just drink your cocktail dammit. Deactivating my work email on my phone was absolutely key in achieving this state of holiday brain. As a little test (thanks universe), one work email did come through to my personal account, and while I was able to forward it through to my amazing colleagues (thanks Liz and Riyad!), I did stress about it. Which, in a way, just reinforced how important it was to disconnect and give myself a break.
– Underlining the above point is this: it is VITAL to have amazing people to run the show while you’re gone. Liz, Carla, Riyad and Alex – thank you! What a gift. I know a “Cambodia” magnet doesn’t go very far in repaying this debt, but there’s also my undying gratitude.
– Do you even know how long your battery lasts when you put your phone on airplane mode and just use it to take photos? It’s like having a Nokia 3310 again. Battery for daaaaaaaaaaays.
– I used to check my mail obsessively. Respond to emails from the Checkers queue. Pick up my phone as soon as I got out of the pool at the gym in case there was something urgent. If I was still awake and a mail came through late at night, I would read it, and often respond. It’s been a full week of work since I’ve been back and I still haven’t reactivated my work mail on my phone. I’ve enjoyed the peace too much. And with it has come something which I always knew but had trouble applying: if a client has to wait til morning for a response, they’ll probably survive.