With summer unofficially kicking off this weekend, no doubt many entrepreneurs have started dreaming of the perfect summer getaway. Whether for you that means long, lazy days on a beach lounger or exploring an exotic new locale, many professionals run into the same snag -- you salivate at the thought of escaping work, but when the time actually comes you find it nearly impossible to actually disconnect.

Will your business fall apart in your absence? What if there's a crisis? Someone could be sending you a career-changing email right now! Thoughts like that prey on the mind, and soon your traveling companions are rolling their eyes in annoyance as you pick up your laptop once again for "just" a quick half hour of work.

You know the value of a real break (and if not, ask your annoyed family or the many, many experts begging you to switch off), so how can you get over your understandable fear that you're going to miss something important? Leadership expert and author Jennifer Deal offered a helpful suggestion on the WSJ blogs recently.

Hacking your brain to let you relax

Start by understanding why you struggle so much to resist your gadgets. "Smartphones burden those who carry them for work because their very presence activates the Zeigarnik Effect--the difficulty people have to completely forget about something when it is left incomplete," she explains. In short, there are real psychological reasons that tuning everything out on vacation is so hard.

But that doesn't mean switching off is impossible. Deal goes on to offer a couple of suggestions on how to quiet those persistent worries and 'what-ifs' that keep you glancing at your phone.

  • Immerse yourself in another activity: "One way to reduce the Zeigarnik Effect is to become so immersed in something else that your brain can't hold on to the incomplete task any more. For example, it is difficult for your brain to keep thinking about the incomplete task if you're playing tennis or coaching your child's soccer or baseball team--doing something that requires constant focus outside yourself," she writes.
  • Hide the damn thing. Extreme cases sometimes call for extreme measures: "turn the phone off and put it physically away, such as locking it in a safe," Deal recommends. Eventually, your brain will give up and your urges to check your inboxes will die down, she promises.

So this year, when you're planning your getaway, consider scheduling plenty of active (and distracting) activities into your days. And if you really struggle with not working, make sure your hotel room has one of those handy little safes.

Do you have any other tips to add? How do you get over your worries and relax on holiday?

 

Published on: May 27, 2016
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