Friday, August 22, 2014

Week Thirty-four – Switching off!

Life has changed dramatically with technology and being reachable 24/7 is something we cannot avoid, but can we and should we switch off?

Workation with Friends and Family! always time for everything...

You are going on holidays and you booked your tickets, the hotel, even the rental car and you have packed your bags, checked your passport, and chosen your favourite book to read; you’ve got everything you need and off you go onto your annual rest from it all to some exciting, exotic and hopefully enjoyable destination. And the advice you are given by everyone you talk to before you leave? Make sure you enjoy it and switch off!

Vacation starts, you are going to “switch everything off” but as soon as we arrive at the airport we take a ‘selfie’ and post it on Face book. Then we check in our status “off to my holidays” follow by scrolling down and check out what’s happened in the last 2 hours we didn’t go into Face book because we were on our way to the airport. And for good measure, you check your work e-mail just to read the last few before you “switch off”

You board the plane; you sit and pick up the airline magazine to pass the time before taking off. During the flight you read your book, chat and plan all the exiting things you will do when you get there, you have completely switched off. You land and go to the luggage hall to collect your bag and you turn your smart device on. You know how expensive roaming charges are abroad so you “switch off” data roaming on your phone and check to see if there is free wireless at the airport. You pick up an open network and you get 45 minutes free! Yea! You can now go into Face Book and take another “selfie’ and post it in your page with the status “we’ve landed” you then scroll down to see what’s been happening in the last two hours you “switch off” on the plan and see how many people liked your previous picture and status. You like a few things and then take a quick glance at your work e-mail to see if anything came in the last two hours.

You take your bags and walk to the car rental company to pick up the car, you still have about 20 minutes left of free Wi-Fi so you take the opportunity to continue checking stuff and do a quick Skype call to let people know you landed safely. You get the keys, a map and board your rental car trying to figure out which way to go out of the airport and onto your hotel. You arrive, safely and slightly later than planned as you got lost on the way there. You go and check in. While you wait you take out your smart phone again and check if there is Wi-Fi, there is! And it’s free too! Take another selfie, do a status update and a quick glance at the work e-mail. Check in, go up to your room, unpack and start your vacation!

And without realising it, you spend your entire vacation hooked onto your smart device, chatting, posting, taking selfies to let everyone know where you’ve been and ever so often checking your work e-mail too “to deal with those urgent things”; but hey, you are on vacation and have taken everyone’s advice to enjoy it and … oh hang on, you haven’t switch off!

This is the reality many of us face nowadays as life in the modern era of technology and virtual networking has made it easier for us to stay in touch and literally never switch off. But is this a bad thing and does it really spoil your break? Most people will know that when I take a break from work I call it my “workation” as even though I will be away doing most things non-work related, I still like to keep an eye on my work. By doing this I am able to know that when I come back I don’t have to spend longer hours trying to catch up with things and drown in my inbox which is about to explode with all the e-mails I didn’t read while away. I also like to keep very active socially and remain in contact with people through my social networks, yes sharing selfies, chatting and checking what everyone is up to. And because I also have my writing challenge I find myself dedicating time to this week’s blog as well. All an all, my vacation is a time where I still do all the things which are part of my everyday life, remaining balanced between all of them and enjoy time away, it is just my focus that shifts.

I think that switching off from work whilst on holidays does not work. I think you can shift the amount of time you spend thinking about work, after all your are on vacation, but still remain focused on it. And I think that this is the balance we often talk about in life; think about it. When you are at work, the majority of your focus is at work, but you never “switch off” from your private life, you still check on your family, things that are going on and have to do at home and you are always alert at events that may take place in your private life, while at work. You also take time and check in socially, while you take your break or go for lunch. You make the occasional call home to make sure everything is ok and deal with any emergencies that may come up. But all this time your main focus has been work, and doing a great job. So you can see that during our work time, we don’t just switch off from our private and social life, it’s virtually impossible. So why when we go on holidays we are told to switch off from work? We are not advised to switch off from home when at work.

For me the real balance is to be able to shift your time appropriately in each occasion of your life. When at work the majority of your focus is on work, but you do check in with friends and family as and when needed or appropriate. When you are at home your focus is with the family and occasionally check in with friends and work. With friends your focus is with them and check in with family and work, and when on vacation, it’s time for all, family, friends, work and more importantly time for you to do what you want to do, when you want to do it and how you want to do it, staying in touch with all circles of your life including your hobbies and passions; that’s why you are getting week thirty-four of my blog challenge!

This next two weeks as I take time for my “workation” I will continue to bring that balance in my life, knowing that I can still enjoy life without having to “switch off” anything! Have you found your balance yet?

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