I recently tried an experiment: I went on holiday and, for the first time since mobile phones began, I turned my mobile phone off.
Feeling very brave I also set up an ‘out of the office’ auto-reply on all my emails. It said the following:
I know you might find this hard to believe but I’ve actually taken a HOLIDAY, a real proper holiday, one where I’ve switched off my phone and I have no intention of downloading my email.
I’ll be back in the office on Monday, 19th November and will respond to your email shortly after.
Thank you for your understanding.
I didn’t divert the office phone; I left it on answerphone. I didn’t organise anyone to check my emails in my absence; I left them completely unread.
This was going to be the first time since internet began that I had no intention of looking at my emails or have any communication with the office or work, quite a difficult task when you run your own business.
I then went on holiday to a place with limited mobile phone signal and gave my mobile to my roommate with the instruction that it was only to be switched on once a day, to check whether I had received any text messages. Under no circumstances was I allowed to look at emails, read the internet, Twitter or Facebook.
Now to share with you the results of my experiment:
No one really minded. The office didn’t fall down, collapse or disintegrate whilst I was away. Employers and candidates weren’t registered, new client enquiries were left unanswered, nothing moved forward on the job club or salary survey. Bookcareers.com was closed.
More importantly, I got a holiday, one where I could clear my head, relax and have some fun without the constant interruption of thinking about work. Even if you make the pledge to ‘read but not act on emails’ you are still having your holiday disturbed by work and thoughts of work.
I admit the first ten minutes were scary but by the time I got home I was reluctant to lose the peaceful calm which had descended on my disposition.
What have I learnt from it?
Since being back I now switch my phone off regularly. I can go to dinner or drinks with friends and not be constantly tapping, checking my phone or thinking ‘I must tell Twitter’. I can shut off from the office and know I needn’t worry – it will all be waiting for me when I return.
So my questions to you are:
Will you switch off your mobile phone over Christmas? Will you really give yourself the break you deserve?
Go on, I dare you, you never know, you might enjoy it!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and successful New Year.