Unplug for the Holidays

One pillar on which MIP Consulting is founded is using empirically supported methodologies in the workplace. No longer should leaders need to rely on pop-management strategies when there is a field of research ready to be put into action.

As I departed for my two-week honeymoon to South Africa, I thought it was prudent to practice what I preach and leverage some good research. Sonnetag (2003) studied the effects of disconnecting from the workplace in attempt to recover. I had heard of this whole “relaxation” idea, but I did not realize that disconnecting is shown to have such a powerful impact. The research tells us by taking some time away, employee engagement and proactive behaviors actually increase (Sonnetag, 2003).

Here are some things I did (and wish I did) to disconnect, recharge, and gear up for a strong end to 2018.

What I did…

Plan Ahead

We planned this trip over eight months before leaving, giving little excuse not to prepare myself well in advance. In the weeks leading up to our trip, I planned client work to be completed before I left and prepared people for my absence.

Read…but Respond at Minimum

It was too tempting not to read my e-mails when I saw the alerts come in, but I set limits on responding. If I knew that not responding to a message would leave me thinking about it for longer than it would take me to type, I responded. For e-mails that could wait, I wasn’t too tempted to respond because I knew I had hit the big stuff.

WiFi only

Nowadays, cell carrier services allow us to have full connectivity all over the world…for a price. I decided not to buy a roaming plan, and only have access to e-mail when connected to WiFi. This allowed me to refrain from checking my phone when it was time to disconnect, like in the middle of a safari (the lions don’t have WiFi). E-mail was restricted to the hotels and coffee shops.

What I WISH I did…

Stop the Push

I never picked up my phone with the intention of checking work. I reached for the device with the intent to put on some music or scroll through Twitter to see the New York Rangers score – two things I would chalk up to being totally acceptable vacation activities. It wasn’t until I saw the number on my Outlook app that I thought to peek inside the inbox. I should have disconnected the push notifications from my phone. If I had to manually refresh my inbox each time, I probably would have gone longer between work checks.

Get a Burner Account

On safari, we met a great couple from Canada who run a CPA firm. With many years of realizing their slavery to work (that is my nice way of saying they were…old), they created a strategy to make checking work e-mail nearly impossible. They disconnect their normal e-mail accounts and use a special travel e-mail account, known only by their children and one key person within the business. This way they are able to keep in touch with family and work as desired or needed, while keeping the mundane contact at bay.

Learn to Relax

I am terrible at vacationing. I love the work I do and am passionate about learning more. While I was happy to read three books in our two weeks abroad, I could not sit still for more than 10 minutes. This blog post was drafted on the plane! In the future, I would actually suggest preparing to vacation. Some time spent meditating, practicing mindfulness, or trying other ways to get into the vacation mindset before the trip may have helped me indulge in some relaxation while away.

While we had the time of our lives traveling around the southern hemisphere, I am happy to be home! I feel refreshed and see a difference in how I am approaching work in my few days back. This holiday season, try taking some time off to actually disconnect – it does miracles for the mind.

I am very lucky to have had an AMAZING 2018. I married the girl of my dreams and started a business where I get to do what I love each and every day. Thank you to all of my amazing clients and friends who have made this year truly spectacular. I look forward to a great 2019!