Here’s a thing you probably already know about me. I like to travel. That includes a lot of family trips, business trips and everyone’s favorite: summer vacation. Now, there is a problem today with summer vacations as opposed to the summer vacations my family took when I was growing up. Today you are connected, always tethered to the outside world. It’s hard to untether yourself from work and life when you’re on vacation. In fact, it’s estimated that in the U.S., 52% of the workforce checks their email while on vacation. Not a great attribute for a nation!
And I know that taking a digital vacation is easier said than done, though. Unless you plan to chuck your laptop and smartphone into the pool when you get to your holiday destination, you are still going to have a device people can contact you on. The trick is to plan accordingly to minimize the amount of urgent emails and frantic phone calls you receive. Here are a few tips to make that vacation truly stress/digital-free.
- Plan Accordingly. Outside of making sure everything is complete or taken care of while you’re out, set custom messages across all phones and social media devices to let the world know that you’ve checked out. That includes your office phone, home phone, cellphone, Facebook timeline, Twitter feed and wherever else you’re on.
- Smart Out of Office. Setting your out of office is a no-brainer to help deal with the email stress, but there’s so much more you can do here than just pick a few dates and a template message. Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! And the hundreds of other email services may have slightly different out-of-office systems, but a quick online search of their capabilities will show you that most have a lot more to offer. For instance, with Outlook you can add rules to exclude sending messages to certain email lists. With Gmail, you can have a certain out-of-office only sent to people within your company list. Also, think of an out-of-office as a set of instructions that shows someone how to get the information they need without bothering you. Giving contact information for consenting coworkers or providing links to relevant resources all keep people from needing to disturb you.
- Do Not Disturb. Speaking of disturbing, sometimes there’s just no way around it. Someone is going to call you. But how do you skip the regular calls and only get to the emergency calls? Try Do Not Disturb, an app that lets your cell stay silent for all phone calls unless the same number calls you multiple times or a number is on a whitelist. Along with that, it can automatically send a message to missed calls.
- Auto-Message. Last comes texting. AutoSMS, Intelligent Autoreply and Smart SMS are all apps that automatically send a response text to those that might try and seek you out through messaging. Each app has built-in smart features that let you choose different auto-texts depending on the words someone uses in their text and who it’s from.
Also, one last bonus suggestion, back up your files before you head out the door. Try AVG LiveKive, which helps you back up all your files so there’s no stress about what you might come home back to while you’re out of town.
With that you’ve got your emails, phone calls, text messages and files. Now don’t forget the sunscreen!
If you cannot break the digital habit on your own I know a couple of great islands in the Caribbean with no cell service. Just ask!