Whenever I leave town for vacation, one of the most important choices I make is, Am I going to check my office email?
Sometimes I can’t avoid it—there’s an important deadline coming up, or an unfinished problem that needs to be solved. But I am working hard to stop working while on vacation—and usually the key is going off the grid.
Recently my wife, Merry, and I were gone for a wonderful two weeks. We gloried in the majesty of God’s creation. On some days we went sightseeing, and on others we did practically nothing but lie on the beach. We met my parents and my sister and her husband, and we celebrated Dad and Mom’s sixtieth wedding anniversary. I read three books and hardly watched any television.
And during that entire time I totally avoided my office email. That little “Mail” icon on my iPhone and iPad begged for my attention each day, but I ignored its tempting voice. And with each passing day, thoughts of work responsibilities slid further back into the recesses of my convoluted brain.
And perhaps that was the real vacation—the one from those thoughts. I’m an analytical person anyway—typical of many writers. In my job I’m juggling too many responsibilities, and when I focus on one task a dozen others are neglected. There are issues I need to address that won’t receive any attention until next year.
So one of my biggest goals for any vacation is to stop thinking about work. Give my over-analytical brain a rest. Focus on what I’m doing, and on the people I’m doing it with.
Email only brings those unresolved office issues to the surface. An innocent message will spark thoughts such as, “The real issue here is ...” or, “I’ll keep getting questions like this until I …”
And oh, how refreshing it was to go day after day without those thoughts. To live in the moment, and enjoy my wife and family. I almost felt my mind shedding its old skin.
The last day of vacation was a rest day after we returned home. I was tempted that afternoon to start going through the pile of emails that awaited me, but I said to Merry, “It just feels so nice not to think about work. I think I’ll wait until tomorrow.”
I arrived at work the next day and saw, once again, that the office survived without me. I turned on my laptop, and allowed the work side of my brain to begin returning to life.
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1. Read more on the way that digital technology is affecting our lifestyles and our relationships.
2. Explore some more ideas on creating quality time with your kids.
3. Plan a weekend getaway with your spouse to spend time together and build your marriage--attend a Weekend to Remember® or one of the upcoming I Still Do events in Chicago, Portland, or Washington, D.C.