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Walkthrough Wednesdays

Collaboration Overload- the Importance of Unplugging


I recently took a couple of weeks off.  I had family coming to visit and I like playing  tour guide.  It's fun to have the chance to forget you actually live near a bunch of cool interesting things that you'd probably not put forth the effort to see unless you were dragged there by visiting family.  I managed to clear my calendar for those two weeks finding people to stand in on my behalf at those important meetings and calls.  I also alerted project teams I'm a participant of that I would be unavailable for that time.  I had planned on unplugging for the entire time and was quite successful in my efforts.  Have you tried unplugging?

I wasn't looking to vanish and go off the grid, so I did provide means of reaching me to certain select people in case something that absolutely couldn't wait came up.  With that I realized that I definitely have preferred means of communications.  Of the various ways of reaching me when I don't want to be disturbed, SMS on my mobile phone is best.  I think that's because it's quick for me to consume, not as intrusive as answering a call or listening to a voice message, and I can't seem to ignore that flashing light that tells me I have a new message.  Although I do realize I can turn it off in settings.

I must confess I wasn't 100% successful, but it wasn't because of FOMO or "Fear Of Missing Out".  I was actually more focused on data management and making sure my inbox didn't max out its allocated space.  So every few days when time would allow I'd go to e-mail on my mobile phone and quickly scan the subject lines, check the messages that were irrelevant, and delete them all together.  Total of about two minutes per visit.  I made it a point to not open a single e-mail message.  I saved them for my first day back and made it a point to respond from newer to older order.  This way I'm addressing the latest message of any thread and if no response is necessary I can quickly disregard the previous messages in the thread.

The importance of unplugging is discussed in the New York Times article Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime and the fact of the matter is that as human beings we need to separate ourselves from the chaos of multiple distractions to focus on the primary need at hand.  We have the tools at our disposal to remain connected at all times regardless of location.  There's a new generation of workforce that constantly multitask with a variety of devices and no matter how good they think they are at human multitasking it just isn't possible, we're not wired that way.

With that, I encourage you to completely unplug from time to time and enjoy a holiday.  Be efficient in your holiday by not having to be effective at work during the same timeframe.  From my personal experiences I do find myself returning to work more refreshed and invigorated after being unplugged.  I realize that no matter how important I consider my role, the company will survive without me for the time I'm out.  How do you unplug from work and what have the results been?   Or, do you find it difficult to detach completely from work?  Does it seem more beneficial to remain connected either from FOMO or another reason?


Recent article in Fast Company also talks about unplugging for holiday time off: 


Dennis Mink

100% agree. I typically only read books on my holidays, something I can never seem to concentrate on during the week. 


Thank you for reading my blog.  I just hope you aren't reading it while on holiday   


Excellent Blog John. I definitely encourage my peers to unplug during holidays and PTO. Although I do find myself keeping one eye on the email subjects as well

Thanks for posting!


It is something that these days we have to monitor e-mail to manage the space available for our inbox while out of the office.

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