I’m coming up on a fairly long stretch away from the office. My resolve will be tested.
Vacations quaintly are designed to give your body and mind a break from work and an opportunity to do things you can’t do while on the job. Even if you burn the days off in a hibernating stay-cation instead of flying to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s still valuable time spent not concentrating on your job.
The digital age has screwed up the whole traditional “let’s go to the hot springs and sunbathe and sleep for two weeks” vacation groove. A Netiquette blog post on CNN today reports that almost 60 percent of American adults check their work e-mail during holidays. I’ll bet the percentage is far higher during vacations.
So, e-mail checker, are you getting a good holiday, a lazy, fun vacation? Not like you used to, I’m sure.
In recent years I’ve been the occasional victim of vacations or long weekends sullied because I gave into the neurotic impulse to keep track of e-mail every couple of days. Of all the e-mails I’ve opened on vacation that elicited a curse of frustration, I can’t recall a single one that absolutely required my immediate response or action. But many of them washed away vacation dreaminess like a blast of freezing water.
This time, I intend to maintain strict radio silence, like they say in the war movies. No Facebook. No Twitter. No virtual private network connection to the office. And above all, no Outlook e-mail retrieval.
In theory, this will be a blissful time filled with fun and relaxation, with minimal or even nonexistent qualms about what kinds of crises might be playing out back at the workplace. Yes, I should return to work limber in all muscles and joints and grinning like a happy fool.
Of course, I can think of several hazards that might blow up my clever plan:
- I’m leaving my cell phone number, so they’ll call me if needed. Everything left hanging will come rushing back into my unprotected vacation-brain.
- Something urgent actually might come up that deserves my attention right away. Upon returning to work, I’ll examine the carnage and berate myself for not being plugged in to quickly resolve or minimize the problem.
- I’ll doggedly hold to my vow of digital silence but be guilt ridden the whole time, worrying about what kind of disaster I may be allowing to happen by not being on eternal duty.
- My boss might read this blog post and become annoyed that I’m plotting something that could be categorized as managerial slacking.
Nevertheless, I’m going to try it. After vacation, I’ll come back to work as a fully rested and restored ball of fire deserving of immediate fat raises and promotions. I’ll also post a postscript to this post. (See? I really do need a vacation.)
Finally, I’m wondering how others cope with work-related vacation demands or anxieties. Please post your thoughts here.