How Mobile Devices Ruin Your Vacation

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Chris Sandlin

When your family is on vacation, who is more distracted by technology — the kids or parents? Here are some tips to help you focus on your family and fun.

When families discuss unplugging from technology during vacation, the focus is usually on preteens and teenagers. But another family member frequently has trouble cutting the technology ties — Dad.

Over the past decade, the amount of work done online and via cellphone has increased, and this professional connectivity has led to the blurring of boundaries between work and home life.

The impact during vacation is that dads often don’t get much rest and relaxation — they are still at work mentally, and their brains don’t get a break. Unplugging from work is good for Dad, as well as for the family.

When on vacation, the struggle to disconnect from work can seem daunting. For many men, their identities and feelings of success are closely tied to their work. This drives the desire to feel needed and to stay connected. And some employers even expect staff to be available while on vacation.

While the challenges are real, they are not insurmountable. Here are some practical suggestions that can help dads who want to be more present with their families (and less with their workplaces) during vacation:

Set realistic goals.

It may seem ideal to turn off your cellphone and leave your computer at home for the whole vacation, but that may not be possible, particularly if you use the GPS on your phone to help find where you’re going. But minimizing your online availability, especially during important together times, is better than not setting any limits at all.

Define expectations.

When you inform your supervisor and colleagues that you will be on vacation, clarify your expectations — and theirs — about your availability. If you’re going to have to be available occasionally, let them know when you’ll check emails or return calls. Recommendation: once per day at the beginning or end of the day.

Hide the devices.

When fighting daily habits, it’s best to put temptation — your devices — out of sight. That way, you will be less likely to “just check” when you walk by and see them. Better yet, give your devices to someone else in the family to keep for you.

Dr. Paul White is a psychologist, speaker, consultant and the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

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