It's time for a little summer R&R. You've got the bathing suit packed, the resort booked, and visions of Cabo's beaches on the brain. Sounds dreamy, no? It will be--unless you find yourself texting friends about the great food, live-Tweeting the amazing sunset, agonizing over whether to use the LoFi or the Hefe filter for your Instagram post--and, of course, glancing at your work email.
Levi Felix knows all about this technology trap. He co-founded Digital Detox, a weekend retreat for the hyper-connected crowd that has one overarching rule: no gadgets allowed. Felix helped me compile a checklist for even the most severe mobile-addicts to prepare for a long-awaited, much-deserved summer vacation:
Countdown: One Month
The numbers don't lie: most of us are addicted to our devices. Thinking that you can go cold turkey on Day 1 of your vacation isn't going to work. Felix suggests taking small amounts of time out of each day to live device-free. Start about a month before the trip and then gradually extend the length of the daily detox. Stop taking your phone to bed at night--buy an alarm clock instead. And no more gadgets at the dinner table.
Countdown: Two Weeks
Let your family, friends, partners, employees and clients know sooner rather than later that you'll be off the grid. Empower your employees to get things done by explaining and delegating the work that needs to happen in your absence. Extend deadlines, if need be, and make sure to connect people that you may normally be the bridge between in your current work structure. You don't want your employees scrambling to find you. If you stick to your word and let them lead, not only will your employees feel valuable, they will also follow suit when it comes time for their own vacations.
Countdown: One Week
Those pesky push notifications are a blessing and a curse. You never miss out on the latest breaking news or status updates, but what happened when you're headed to a surfing lesson or toasting an anniversary? Do you stop your vacation every time your phone lights up?
A week before your trip, disable all of your push notifications and delete all social media apps from your phone (don't worry--you can reinstall them). Group your remaining mobile apps in folders on your home screen so they won't tempt you. If you must visit Facebook and Twitter or check your email, make it a little harder on yourself by using your phone's default browser to do so. By creating that extra hurdle, you'll think twice about whether you really want to visit those sites, or whether you're just doing it to pass the time.
Countdown: Departure Day
People often forget this: change your voicemail, set up an automatic out-of-office email reply, update your Facebook status, and send out a "Bon Voyage" Tweet. When packing at home, rediscover the joy of paper. Be sure to print out maps, hotel confirmations, and ideas about where to eat and what to do. This way, you won't have to rely on your mobile device as your guide.
If you're traveling with friends or family, here's a novel idea: make a plan to meet--say, the beach at sunset--and stick to it. Don't get anxious if someone is a few minutes late. Your friends will either show up--or not. Remember: You're on vacation!
Still feeling the urge to document your amazing adventure? Buy a disposable film camera (yes! they still exist and, unlike basic digital cameras, you can't go overboard). Better yet, keep a journal. You'll capture memorable moments better than any photograph--or Tweet--ever could.