Always On?

By Brenda Bethman

In about half an hour, we will officially be on spring break. As staff, I actually don’t have next week off, but am taking Monday-Wednesday as vacation days. I’ve got a short trip to New Orleans planned and am very much looking forward to being away from the office for a few days. But can I really get away completely? The other night we held a program on “Technology and Modern Families” (see Kristen’s writeup for a description). One tip several of the panelists shared was to turn off push notifications on their phone for their work email accounts. Another said she always leaves her cell phone in her car and only returns calls from there (she has a Bluetooth, so don’t panic!).

I have to confess that the thought of going away for any length of time and not checking in is completely foreign to me. For one thing, I hate coming back to an inbox that’s even more overflowing than usual, so I will usually check my email even if only to delete (ruthlessly, based on subject line, without reading). But I also really, truly love my job and don’t mind being “on” even when I’m gone. (Which reminds me, I have another post coming on why that is a legitimate way to live and how we should stop assuming that people for whom work is life are somehow impoverished. But I digress). That said, I’m feeling more burned-out than usual these days and am thinking that I will try something radical on this trip and not check in on my email. I will bring my laptop to work on some overdue writing projects, but I consider writing fun work, so that’s OK. And I will spend lots of time in the sunshine, eating good things, and drinking good things, with my iPhone safely tucked away. I’m curious to see if I can really manage to ignore my email for that long.

What about you? Do you unplug when you’re away from the office? If so, how? Do you check in occasionally? Or not all?