So many of us are constantly tangled between texts, emails, FaceTime dates, Venmos, IG stories… let’s think about ways to step away from phones — these all-or-nothing creatures — during your next vacation.
It took me a few minutes to phrase it just right… “Hi! I will be Out Of Office from April 1 through May 15th. Please know I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
(Not quite my OOO. I wish.)
About three seconds after I turned this notification on, I got an email. Well, I’m not on vacation yet, I said to myself. So I answered it. Which actually meant I had to send two additional emails and respond to three in order to actually answer the first email in full. That was the first 23 minutes of my vacation. I could quickly see this becoming a rule rather than an exception.
As I’m sure is true for most of you (maybe some of you are even on VACATION), technology has a kind of f’d-up way of coaxing us into checking in. I know that for me, personally, I cannot STAND to see a number in a red dot pop up pretty much anywhere on my phone. As soon as a little but very noticeable 🔴 appears on the screen, my brain jumps into some weird autopilot must-kill-the spot mode and I click into that email or alert or notification to get rid of it.
Obviously, emails do not stop flowing in, the world does not take pause while I do. When I requested time off, did I really envision sitting seaside fighting the high sun’s glare so I can decipher a colleague’s question, and then ponder which item from the daily cafeteria specials I’d buy if I were in the office? Maybe, but no, I won’t do it. To help, I found a few pretty simple ways to do right by your OOO and enjoy the world around you for awhile. Here they are for you, too:
1. JUST TURN OFF YOUR PHONE.
Just switch ‘er off. It is exTREMEly unlikely that missing a few texts will haunt you for the rest of your waking life. Work can wait. Yes, it can wait. You’ve most likely planned ahead for this time off, and addressed anything urgent and/or time-sensitive in advance. Even if you can only dedicate an hour’s time to phone-free life, that’s an hour spent fully engaged in LIFE. And not watching it via a screen. In that line of thinking, it’s always wise to contact your phone carrier pre-trip to confirm that it will have service and afford you the things that just might come in handy. And don’t forget to give a heads-up to friends and family with whom you speak often, if you want to ensure no one’s calling the local authorities to check on you.
2. CHALLENGE YOUR MEMORY.
And no, not your phone’s memory. I heard somewhere a saying that went kind of like this: “If something happens and you didn’t post it on IG, did it even happen at all?” DUH, but…well, it’s not entirely untrue these days. And I’m included in this mix of people who quick throw a phone up in between them and a fave singer/gorgeous sunset/talking unicorn for fear of forgetting the moment ever existed. But in doing so, I stop giving myself credit for just remembering. And honestly, how many of those gorgeous sunsets have you REALLY captured? Like, half the colors never register anyway. So…as an extension of point #1, put that phone down. Open your eyes, breathe, embrace, accept. The sensory capture of an event will resonate forever longer than a quick tap of your finger will.
3. PHOTOS ARE PRETTY GREAT, THOUGH.
But I get it – there are just some moments that warrant a quick snap because your friends will never believe that YOU SAW THAT??!!! You hiked UP THERE??! Consider, then, this challenge — regardless of your destination, regardless of your itinerary when you get there… set a limit. Maybe it’s five photos a day, 1o… but no more. Be thoughtful in your space, and dedicate phone photos to the big moments (or the quiet ones, if that’s your thing), The thing with phones is, this often happens: “I just took a pic of Mount Kilimanjaro…now I need to process it through VSCO…and now Afterlight…and now I need to send it to my mom…and now I have to post it on IG, Facebook for Gramma to see…” It’s a slippery slope.
IF you opt to tote a film camera or disposable camera, the challenge is kind of negated because you are engaging with that equipment and focused on getting what you hope will be an amazing shot. And the time you’re taken out of your surroundings begins — and ends — with each photograph.
4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR TIME AWAY AND RELAX.
This will look different for different people, so don’t take a second to compare your time with how you might assume anyone else would spend it. Some choose to find peace through meditation, some by reading a book poolside, some by taking on a 5-mile run. But, your collective intention is to unwind, so plan to do just that. Give in to the time that you’ve earned. Take deep breaths, find gratitude in your experience and most of all, have an amazing time before OOO is BITO (Back In The Office…where, if you’re fortunate enough, will continue to offer you joy).