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September 3, 2013
By Beth Brooks, CAE

I recently took a summer vacation and made the decision not to check emails during my time away (10 days). The day before leaving, Christopher Williston gave me a copy of the latest Fast Company which featured an article entitled “#unplugged” by Baratunde Thurston. While the author’s full time job was to be connected via social media and every other digital platform (“the most connected man in the world”), I was really only worried about emails. I can live without checking Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on a daily basis. Although, I did live vicariously through my 18 year old son who gave me Facebook updates every day.

I chose not to check email for several reasons:

  1. I just wanted to be with my family - after all, it was a vacation.
  2.  We were traveling in Asia and connecting could have been a hassle (again, on vacation, I did not want to be stressed).
  3. The TSAE staff had everything under control.

I did not check emails for nine days. And it was easy. Okay, day one seemed strange… but most of that time was on a plane. And day ten was not good when I landed in San Diego and turned on my emails and saw 389 emails.

After spending hours reading through them, I realized that not one of them was immediately critical.

By being pro-active and letting everyone know that I would be unavailable, everyone respected my time off and held off sending anything that was time sensitive or critical. Hint: personally tell everyone you can that you will be gone (business and personal); update and turn on your “out of office” memo; change your phone message; and understand that staff and members can handle emergencies. Of course, if the building had burned down, or there was a death, key people knew how to get hold of me.

In today’s connected world, we have a fear of missing out (FOMO) on news and updates. But if you really want to enjoy your vacation and family, get unplugged for a few days – you won’t regret it and you won’t miss out on important life experiences.

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