Over the summer, I took a 9 day trip to Norris Lake, Tennessee. It was a great vacation for so many reasons. First of all, the lake was one of the most beautiful places I've seen. The water is warm and it looks almost tropical like a scene from Jurassic Park. I got to spend uninterrupted time with family- usually it is hard to get my 18 year old brothers to stop scrolling on Twitter or Instagram. There was time for relaxing and napping on the boat or floating, beer in hand, in the water and time for activities like wakeboarding and cliff jumping. One of the best things about it though was the lack of cell service!
New technology has made it possible for people to work from virtually anywhere, which is great, right? The problem is that with social media and smartphones, there has come to be an expectation that people should be available all of the time. Studies show that the brain needs time to recharge. Without enough of this time, it remains overstimulated resulting in additional stress and relationships that aren’t being given enough time and attention. Studies also show that people engage in more meaningful conversations without smartphones around and that even knowing the phone is on and nearby can lead to a distracted and lower-quality discussion.
The trip made me realize how good it was to unplug... it was unintentional since cell service was literally unavailable but I absolutely believe in the need for digital detoxes now!
Here are some tips to unplug on your upcoming vacation:
- Forget your charger. OK, I know this isn't completely realistic if you're going on a sightseeing type of vacation or even if you need to order an Uber when you get off the plane, but I could have forgot my charger and not known the difference in Norris Lake. It also might force you to share a charger with someone else on the trip, making it more likely that your phone will be dead at times than if you had brought your own charger.
- Turn off push notifications! Why tempt yourself to look? Pop-up notifications will only make it more difficult to keep those apps closed because of course if someone liked our pic on Instagram we have to check and see who it was.
- Be intentional with your time- If going off the grid completely isn't realistic for you, dedicate blocks of hours to be phone and technology free so you can focus on the people around you and turn your brain off from the stimulations of social media and stresses of work.
- Set Expectations- Before you go on vacation, let your boss and peers know that you plan to disconnect so you can accomplish the whole point of the vacation- to relax and recharge! In my case, I knew beforehand that there was little to no cell service on the majority of the lake and I let everyone know before I left.
- Go Old School- Buy or rent magazines and books if you anticipate some downtime on your vacation rather than relying on your phone for news articles, Facebook articles, or your kindle.
Akins IT has a great flex PTO program in place and I can't wait to plan my next trip to unplug! You can read more about our company and culture here.