How to get away from work when you’ve got a smartphone

When I go on vacation (as I did last week) I want to disconnect. Small business owners — can you relate? I didn’t want to check my email, voicemail or any other kind of messages. It used to be pretty easy to do this — I just left my laptop at home! But now in the world of smartphones and tablet computers it’s more difficult. My phone is my camera and my iPad is a part of my kids’ bedtime routine so of course I bring them with. And with my phone, I almost reflexively check it. I check it for email, voicemail, social media…

So I set out to turn my devices into vacation safe tools. Here’s what I did:

  1. Turn off all notifications. That means no banners, alerts or badge icons. If I could see that there were emails there I’d check it, but turning off the badge icons, alerts and banners meant that I didn’t get the itch to check (at least as often).
  2. I put my “work” apps into a folder so that they were hidden. Again that kept me from reflexively checking them. Hiding them made it easy for me to not look. (Michael Hyatt went further — he deleted all his social media and messaging apps from his phone.)
  3. All my clients and partners got an email from me telling them that I was going away, and who to talk to while I was gone.
  4. I enjoyed my vacation.

I admit that I did check the inbox once or twice. But because of my email filters, I only saw the most important emails and I returned with fewer than 40 messages in my inbox. I cranked through those in about 90 minutes on Monday and was back to full speed.

So that’s how I disconnected myself. Now let me tell you why I disconnected myself.

When I free myself from the electronic leash (email and social media), I’m free to be on vacation. Instead of having my mind on some business problem, my mind is with my family playing frisbee or walking on the beach. By turning off the reflexive need to respond to each ding of my email, I can reflect on what all this work is for and why I do this in the first place — for my family.

It was worth the extra steps to be on vacation, not just from my office, but from work itself.

How do you turn things off so you can be on vacation?

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