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If you’re planning a vacation from work, here is a quick and easy suggestion for making the most of your time off.  It’s scandalous.  Blasphemous.  Heresy.  Your first thought will be, “I can’t possibly do that.”  Trust me.  You can, and if you do, you’ll realize what a real vacation is supposed to feel like.

Are you ready?  Here you go:

Stop checking your email.  The whole time.  No exceptions.

There.  I said it.  And admit it: you’re thinking all those things above I said you would.  I know you think you can’t do it.  But the most successful people know it’s the smart thing to do.

No Way! Convince Me.

John Donahoe, the CEO of Ebay, summed it up when he said, “Time off pays off…time spent away to refresh and refocus is really not time off. It’s just time better spent.”

If you allow your email to keep pulling your mind back into work, then you don’t really take a work vacation – you don’t really “get away.”  Time off not only provides a mental and physical break, but it allows us distance from our work and our lives that provides a new perspective, a creativity boost, and a clarity of thought that gets buried by the fast pace of our everyday lives.  As a knowledge worker, your success depends at least in part on the wisdom, experience, and unique perspective that you bring to your work. Your supply of your unique creativity is not endless, and therefore taking the time to recharge it means increased productivity and better results when you return.

But It’s So Tempting! Right there on my phone…

I know, but I’m going to help you with that.  First, be sure to put an “out of office” message on your email and voicemail.  Having people know that you are away lessens any obligation you may feel to get right back to them.  Next, DO NOT PACK YOUR LAPTOP.  (If you’re having a “staycation,” put your laptop somewhere out of your line of vision, and leave it there!) If you typically “work” from your laptop, merely having it with you will draw your mind back to the office.  But if you rely on your phone for lots of things, you’ll probably want it, and maybe even your tablet, for watching movies, checking Yelp for places to eat and things to do, Maps, Music, Weather, etc.

If you’re like most people, even if you wanted to take a break from your email, since it’s delivered to your smartphone, it’s really hard, maybe impossible, to resist the urge to push that little email icon, and then it’s all downhill from there!  iphone-email-icon

Here are the instructions for iPhone (& iPad) users to create a barrier that makes it harder to access email, and sometimes this little change is all it takes to successfully resist the urge. (Android users: sorry, but I can’t find an equivalent feature.  The only thing you can do is disable the sync, so no new messages arrive.)

Take a Vacation from Work Email

Tap the “Settings” icon.  Then tap “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.”

Disable Email Image.001

 Next, tap on each of your accounts, one at a time (assuming you have more than one email account.)

Take A Vacation from Work Email

 Finally, move the slider beside “Mail” to the “OFF” position.

Take a Vacation from Work EmailThis will temporarily disable access to your account (essentially “hiding” it), so you won’t see it in your Mail app anymore.  However it will preserve all of your settings and the only thing you need to do to put everything back exactly the way it was is to move that slider back to “ON.”

I’ve found, and my clients confirm, that there is something about simply knowing that the account is hidden that provides enough of a barrier to stay off email. This break from email allows you to truly have a vacation, without having your mind sucked back in to work.  And when you return, your work, and your state of mind, will be better for it.

If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of a vacation (a real vacation, not a vacation where you spend part of the time working), click here.

What do you think?  Are you going to try it?  Let me know in the comments.  Thanks for reading!

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