This past week I was on vacation. I had so much on my mind from work, all I really wanted to do was work.
I love what I do, however, as an Extension professional the lines between work and life are often blurred. I also carry an iPhone on my person most the day, so the idea of a work/life balance is impossible. I'm just working on a figuring out a healthy work/life blend.
Nevertheless, I did not do any (Extension) work during my vacation. I was 90% unplugged for five straight days. I took care of only urgent issues at night, but only for a few minutes because I was completely exhausted.
How did I disconnect?
Sadly, I have worked at some point during every vacation over the past 4 years. I'd check my email, take calls, whatever I could do while trying to balance a vacation at the same time.
I absolutely love what I do, but I feel it is in my best interest to just take a break and let people wait.
This is exactly what I did while on vacation last week. I had a tight deadline to tile 1100 square feet of the new house I'm building. I was in charge of mixing thin-set, inserting spacers, cutting the tile (my wife does not trust me to actually lay the tile, that was her job...and she actually likes this kind of stuff).
When you're dealing with a material that dries quickly and you want your floor to be level, you don't have time to check your phone or answer calls from the office. Things can wait. Things have to wait.
And things were just fine. There were a few issues at the office, but they worked themselves out. People stepped up and covered for me. It was really cool!
I did not work because I could not work.
I wanted to work, but I'm glad I did not. Even thought I was physically working (and learning a new skill...I have never done this type of work before...and I never want to do it again), I was still on vacation. I know that tiling for 80+ hours over five straight days may not be your idea of a vacation, but it's what I needed (and wanted) to get done.
I have learned that in order to disconnect and detach myself from my daily work, I need to immerse myself in other work or recreation that requires my full effort, focus, and time. This is likely why I find canyoneering, mountain biking, CrossFit, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu so gratifying. If it were not for activities like these, it would be incredibly difficult to disconnect when I should be disconnected.
How do you disconnect on vacation? How do you detach yourself from work?
Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
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