6 Steps to Actually Unplugging On Your Next Vacation

We all know that spending our vacations checking work email and fielding “emergency” phone calls isn’t actually relaxing, but a stunning number of us still do it anyway.

The truth is that for those of us who spend our days wrapped up in social networks and work, the act of plugging in is second nature. (Guilty!) We reach for our phones without thinking, conditioned to constantly troll email and social media for new messages.

It’s such a habit for most of us that it takes actual, hard effort to get unplugged.

Folks, it’s time for drastic measures.

To take a truly rejuvenating vacation this summer, it’s time to change your mindset. Follow these six secret-agent steps to getting off the grid, and I guarantee you’ll come back feeling more refreshed than ever.

Are you ready to accept your mission?

1. Prep your team

Before you head out on vacation, put measures in place to make sure everything goes smoothly. Give your team plenty of warning, tie up any loose ends you can, and delegate everything important to someone you trust to do it without your supervision.

Once you’ve done everything you can to make sure things run without you, you can go undercover in good conscience.

2. Designate a handler

If you’re trying to stay incognito, you wouldn’t give everyone in the world your burner cell phone number, right? So give your hotel number and contact info to one coworker who you trust to get ahold of you only in case of an actual work emergency.

Let everyone else know that if they need to get ahold of you, they should talk to that person. If you do this, you’ll be surprised how many “work emergencies” will fix themselves without your handler having to contact you.

3. Cut your ties

Delete all those phone apps that normally eat up your free time: email, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, or whatever else you use to communicate with the outside world. That will keep other people’s drama and problems from intruding on your vacation, and you can always reinstall them when you get home.

4. Go dark on email

Set up a detailed autoresponder that lets people know what to do while you’re out of office, and then stop checking your email. Author and coach Michael Hyatt actually sets up a special emergency email address when he’s on vacation and gives it only to his family and teammates.

Not checking email is easier said than done, but if you give in to the temptation to just see what’s going on at work, don’t answer anything! The moment you do, your cover’s been blown, and all your coworkers will think it’s fair game to start emailing you random questions. If you truly need to write a response now, do it – just save it in the drafts folder or use an email scheduler to send it the day you get back.

5. Stay under the radar

If you are going to do some work, set a timer for yourself. Pretend that after 30 minutes, the enemy will have locked on to your location and will start swarming the joint.

In order to keep the pressure on that schedule, choose a time when you have a hard deadline, like dinner reservations, or a pool date with the kids. If you just decide to check in on work some afternoon when you have no other plans, you may end up spending all day there – and thoroughly compromise your vacation zen.

6. Get off the grid

If you don’t trust yourself not to check email while in the hotel room, pick a spot that’s truly off the grid, like Yellowstone Park, or the US Radio Quiet Zone in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Go camping, or on a boat ride, or anywhere that the internet and cellular service are guaranteed to be spotty.

Buy paperbacks (remember those?) to read instead of using your connected iPad or Kindle, and leave your phone locked in the hotel safe unless you need it. Or, buy a cheap non-smartphone to use during the duration of your vacation.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that the only one who can blow your cover is you!

When’s the last time you truly unplugged on your vacation? Tell us about it in the comments!

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