Vacation. That planned time away from “it all” when we hope to unwind, relax, and focus on doing something different from what we do every day. Maybe even have some form of a digital detox and disconnect from the world.
I’m lucky enough to say that I love what I do every day. Truly. It’s a gift and I don’t take that for granted. So, it’s not that I’m really itching to get away from my work so much as I know it’s healthy and good to step away from the busyness of work every now and again. To recharge my batteries and have new experiences with the people I love.
The temptation, though, even when taking time off, is to never fully disconnect. The fear of losing control of a project or missing an important email usually keeps me checking in every few hours to see what has happened. When it’s not checking into work, I’m usually scrolling through Instagram like an addict since heaven forbid I miss a picture of one of my friend’s adorable children or a preview of what they had to eat for lunch.
My phone is the source of this madness, it’s how I stay always connected and tapped into the buzz of life. It’s never far from my reach. Until, it was.
By accident, of course, I left it in the seat back pocket of the plane on the way down to the beach. Anger and frustration were soon followed by worry and stress. How could I be away from home and work for a full week without my lifeline to both? I was not ready for what was coming – a true digital detox.
Over the next few days, we worked out the details and ordered me a new phone when it became apparent that the airline would never be able to track down the one I lost. In the meantime, a pretty awesome thing happened. I disconnected, for real. At first, I found myself regularly reaching for my phone only to realize all over again that it was gone. But soon, I sensed the freedom of not having it around. I wasn’t aware every time an email popped into my inbox and I didn’t have the constant urge to take “just a few minutes” to respond.
When my new phone arrived, I tried hard not to fall immediately back into my old habits. I purposely left it behind when we went to dinner. I plugged it in on the other side of the room at night so it wasn’t the last thing I looked at before bed and the first thing I referenced the next morning. I tried hard to not check every email the moment it came through, instead designating times for email and protecting the rest of my time for other things.
It was a freeing and lovely experience as well a wake-up call to just how much I need to lose my phone more often, on purpose. I’m going to make time more often for the occasional digital detox. Instead of leaving it on a plan, I’m going to designate times when it gets locked in a drawer for a few hours – maybe even a full Saturday. On dinners out with the family, it can sometimes stay at home. If it all goes well, I could even plan a family vacation that celebrates this way of thinking, Like Alee Anderson mentioned in a recent Ink + Well post. Maybe, just maybe, I can hold on to what I learned and appreciate the good that can come from not always having my phone around. And while I can’t go to the beach every other week… I can have that vacation experience from the craziness right here in Nashville more often.
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