Consulting Solutions Manager Craig Abbott, is back, discussing how he renewed his energy by disconnecting while on vacation.
Over the years I have become a slave to my smart phone. Don’t get me wrong, there are many good things about today’s technology, but what I learned is if you do not manage it, it can become an anchor around your neck. Because of my compulsive, “Type A” personality, I cannot have my phone show that I have an unread email or pending voicemail. I have to check it the second I hear the phone beep or buzz. This includes 11:00 at night, weekends, family time, during a movie and even during my tennis matches. The good news is a client’s need or a boss’s demand never goes unanswered.
But there were two problems with this. First I was creating unreasonable standards with clients and my boss. If you always answer at 11:00 at night, immediately to non-emergency inquires at midnight, then you have just set the expectation that you are open for business. So the next time I do not answer at that time because I am asleep, people are disappointed. In my opinion this second reason is more concerning. It felt like I was always at work. I worked my schedule and everyone else’s. My mind never took a break.
With the realization that I was doing myself, my company and my clients more harm than good by being connected 24/7, I decided to take some action. I decided to completely turn off my email on the phone for the week I was on vacation. Sure this is common sense to some of you, but I had not reached that conclusion yet. I told all my clients that I would not be available and gave them instruction on what to do if there was an issue. I told all my co-workers not to call unless it was a true emergency and finally I told my boss if he called it would be considered a work day and not vacation!
The results? By mid-week I was more relaxed than I had been in years. I could feel the stress leave my face. Upon my return home I was extremely relaxed and mentally rested. I had more fun on this trip than ever before. So what did I realize? For starters it was re-enforced that I have a great team and that I can rely on them to take care of client issues, yes the world could go on without me. Second, I realized that we all need time to decompress, but not on a quarterly or annual period but daily. Since I have a great attitude and my energy is much better. I am also working on changing my habits. I tell my clients if they need me after hours or on weekends to let me know in advance so I can schedule for it. Sure I will always be there for emergencies. I am also being more disciplined on not immediately answering email. If it can wait until tomorrow, then it does. The last benefit is my phone battery lasts throughout the day without charging!