My Apple Watch arrived the day before we were headed to Italy. Beautiful timing, I thought. But an odd thing has been happening ever since: I can't unplug anymore. The family trip felt less immersive than my other travels, almost as if my phone was permanently tied to my arm. I had more than one person ask if I was running late for something since I seemed to be constantly looking at my watch. I used to leave my phone in the other room, sometimes unconsciously, to give myself a breather, but there goes my Bluetooth-enabled wrist vibrating at every text, call or email.
It’s like I'm plugged into The Matrix.
I've recently found myself leaving the watch on the counter at night and "forgetting" to put it on in the morning. When it gives me my weekly activity summary, there are now consistently one or two days per week that have no data at all.
It's not really my watch, though–it’s my brain. There is now scientific evidence that we get stimuli (a.k.a. a high) from our phones, our Facebook feeds or our Gmails. It's even harder for entrepreneurs, as that new notification could be our next big business deal.
Unfortunately, that spring trip to Italy was going to be my last vacation... for a while. It's not unusual: Entrepreneurs often have more stress than people with more traditional careers, yet we're less likely to have breaks built into our schedule. When we do stop, we need to turn off as completely as possible for our health, our minds and our sanity.
The next time you take a vacation, try these three things to make sure you actually refresh yourself:
1) Mark little blocks with no action: Give yourself a break–going from 16-hour days to no hours a day is ridiculous. It's even harder for entrepreneurs since we often love our work. Instead, allow yourself chunks of vacation, like a half-hour or an hour in the morning where you will do absolutely nothing. The next day, double the amount of time you'll be in vacation mode.
2) Get work out of your system: Have an email you'll keep thinking about until you send it? Stop "relaxing," pull out your laptop and send it. You can call it an entrepreneur's meditation: Sometimes acknowledging and allowing yourself to think or feel something is the best way to let it go. Be fully present when you dive into your 15 minutes of work, then allow yourself to be fully present when you dive back into vacation.
3) Assume you have everything you need: If you were supposed to be working, you wouldn't be in a relaxed environment with a pina colada/mojito/cold beverage in your hand. Trust your own judgment on why you aren't in the proverbial office.
You might be reading this on your watch while you're supposed to be relaxing somewhere. In that case, stop reading–now!–and go enjoy yourself.