As the owner of an IT business I am always online, always connected and always accessible. There are so many ways to get hold of me now, that I sometimes get surprise notifications appear on my phone for apps I forgot about. Keeping in contact is an important part of business, we need our emails to keep in contact with our customers, to process orders or provide advice. Skype for Business allows me to keep in touch with my team on the move and Skype for Consumer keeps me in touch with my friends in Australia. It is all quite amazing really, but sometimes you need to take a break from being connected, which is something I knew I needed to do, but have only recently appreciated why.
I have a young family, my daughters are 4 and 7 years old now, and they want nothing more than to have mine and my wife’s attention. The other week, I took a day off during half-term to look after them. Emily, the eldest, went to a friend’s house and I took my youngest, Flora, to London on the train. She loves drawing and so once on the train I gave her pencils and a pad. I had a few things on my mind and needed to let the team know, so I got my phone out to read and send some emails. A couple of minutes in Flora looked up and said, “Daddy, please put your phone away as I would like to have a chat with you”. I explained what I was doing, how long it would take and that once done I would not need to check my phone. Which is what happened. Flora and I had a fab day in London, as can be seen in this picture J
What I took from this was my youngest is growing up fast and is already switched on to know what takes my attention away from her. That you can only really give your fullest attention to one thing at a time and if I was honest, none of those emails were a priority. I, like many others have developed a habitual need to check my phone so that I can get my little endorphin rush when I see a notification appear. Those notifications are the nicotine of the 21st century.
So with the summer holidays coming up I am considering how I can change some of my habits. There may be some tips you can take away from this too:
- Be prepared – you know when you are going on holiday, start planning now for all the tasks you have to do before you go. Don’t take on anything new during the week before you go.
- Prepare your team – let them know of anything you think they may need to handle at least 2 weeks before you go. Put a date in your diary now and have a meeting to go through things with them.
- Let your customers know – inform them that you are going to be away and who they should contact in your absence. Arrange a catch up call or meeting with them for after you return, much better than sifting through a mountain of emails which only serve to make you feel busy and stressed.
- Turn on your ‘Out of Office’ – also consider making it clear that you may not review the emails on your return and let them know exactly who in your team they should contact in your absence
- Turn off your work phone – switch it off and leave it in your desk. If you have work email on your home devices, remove it or at the very least disable the sync.
- Have a great holiday – enjoy your break with those that you love or are important to you. Spend time with them and enjoy yourself.
Switching off will allow you to enjoy the time you have away, relax and have fun. If you are thinking about work then nobody gets a chance to relax. You will come back from your holidays happier, refreshed and ready to work with your team and customers. So have a great holiday, I will let you know how I get on with the above at the end of August.