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Summer's over. Did you take an unplugged vacation?

September 6, 2019

It’s well-documented that Americans are notorious for not taking vacation days. In fact, a study published in August found that 768 million vacation days went unused in the U.S. last year—a record number. 

But what about the people who technically take vacations, but who are still working while they’re out of office? If how our team works is any indication, that number is far higher. 

Does a person still reap the benefits of a vacation if they aren’t really unplugging?

Your writer (hi, Kate Moser Miller here) thinks that, yes, even working vacations hold value as a source of inspiration, creativity, and the productivity that can flow when a person is in new surroundings. But when your brain is still working—still, in true Pavlovian form, springing to grab your phone when the email sound dings—are you reaping the brain benefits of being truly disconnected? Are you really able to relax and recharge? 

Probably not. Which is why, at the end of summer, we’re asking whether any of your summer travels included an honest-to-goodness unplugged trip. 

My summer did include that—a river trip in remote Utah with friends forced me to take time away from my phone. And it a dream. Coming back, I realized just how much of my day is punctuated by check-ins to Instagram. How much of my time is spent clutching my phone. And how much extra brain space I had after 5 days of not checking emails. 

But how does a person even prepare for an unplugged trip? A few important ways. 

  • List out your tasks. It’s Virgo season, so even the least organized among us can imagine jotting down their to-dos. To really unplug, you’ve got to take stock of what’s on your list. Then: 
  • Get done what you can do before you leave. Preparation is the key to not having 1,228 emails to sort through when you return. Schedule blog posts. Make sure clients and team members know you’ll be out and who they should email instead.
  • Delegate! We repeat: delegate. Any good team member will be more than happy to cover your items for the week (especially knowing that they, too, will eventually take an unplugged vacation and will need you to cover for them!). Make sure you share with them all they’ll need to answer questions they’ll receive while you’re gone.
  • Accept that you will have some things to sort through upon return. Allow yourself time to do it intentionally and slowly, so you don’t destroy the relaxed state you cultivated during your time off. Relish the relaxation, and enjoy easing yourself back into a routine. 

Have you taken an unplugged vacation from work? How did you prepare for it?