Being offline during your holidays

offline 120 X 120Have you forgotten the real meaning of your holidays? Personally, I see holidays like a Formula one Pit Stop. During the year, we are riding at more than 200 Km/h on the track trying to pass your competitors but it’s impossible to finish a race without making a Pit Stop or two. During this short break, we are still in the race without really being in it but this break has an essential goal: Tank up energy, change tires but mostly breathe for a short time before going back on the circuit.

This year, I have decided to stay offline during our holidays. For some, it may sound easy but I am sure that some of us are addicted to emails, Text messages, IM, Tweets, RSS feeds, Social network status, Q&A on Linkedin, …

We all have somehow an online addiction at different degrees and all those events could easily wait your return. So why are we drugged with our pseudo online lives?

Is it the fear to see a torrent of emails invading your inbox while you are not there? Is it the fear to see a decrease in your followers on Twitter? Or the desire to share in real time your facts and gestures like when you are drinking a margarita on a sun bed (I do not see the point for your community) ?

Personally, here are the reasons why I have decided to stay offline during my last holidays:

1. To be closer to my family. It may seem obvious but it’s easy to stop reading a book but it’s more difficult to stop an IM conversation or interrupt your thoughts when you reply to an email. How many times did you say to your wife and kids to be patient until you finished something on your computer?

2. To read books. Holidays are the only moments in the year where you will be able to digest all the books you have collected and bought during the year. As far as I am concerned, I cannot resist the temptation to buy a book if this one is referenced in a good article. We can read novels along the year but there are books which require more concentration. Holidays are the best moments to read or reread them.

3. To be disconnected from my online feeds which are one way or another linked to my work and therefore I would not be completely “psycho-disconnected”.

4. To reread and organize my notes taken over the last months ( on Evernote and in my Moleskine)

5. To read all the white papers and articles I have downloaded or printed in PDF for reference and reading. Very often, I read them rapidly and store some of them in a folder “read later” in my researches database for further analysis.

6. To delegate. Holidays are a perfect time to measure how much you can the trust your co-workers. It’s important to learn how to delegate some tasks and the resolution of problems which can occur when you are out of the office. I have decided not read my emails (pro and private) during my absence in order to observe how this delegation was performed or if decisions have been postponed until my return.

How to prepare an offline holiday?

For sure, offline does not mean I will not work on my different hobbies (enterprise 2.0 , email overload, networking,….)

1. Read Later (Instapaper). Books are great but on the beach it will be difficult for me to read them. In fact, on the beach I have the heavy task to build beautiful sand castles that will disappear with every rising tide. So why not reading the blog article you have stored lately while you were online. Personally, I use instapaper (premium version) to store offline articles I want to read or reread when I have 10 minutes.

2. A dictionary. Finding a definition or a synonym is one of my first usages of the web. To avoid having the excuse to connect my laptop to the web, I have downloaded some dictionaries for my iPhone.

3. A synchronized Evernote. Being offline does not mean to you cannot use your computer. I use Evernote every day and my intention was to come back from holidays with a ton of notes to synchronize back. But I also wanted to reorganize my notes and Evernote (desktop client) is the ideal tool to answer this demand.

4. A notebook. I do not mean my MacBook but my Moleskine. I love gadgets but my best tool will stay a pen and a notebook. A notebook has the advantage to be sand proof and easy to carry around.

Except for an sms sent to a colleague, I was totally offline for a week and on my return my wife and my daughter (who loves to draw online using my tablet) were the first to be connected.

Are you able to stay offline (including TV and radio) during your holidays ? I would love to hear your comments and advices on this topic.

One thought on “Being offline during your holidays

  1. Good post. There is a certain irony in the need to disconnect in order to re-connect with family, literature etc.
    There is something to be said for nightly disconnect as well (or at least limiting it to small chunks of time).
    Email is a perfect example if we reply to emails 24 hours people start to expect it, and worse still we are modeling poor work life balance to our staff. Some of the best advice I ever read on that was that if you can’t resist the urge to reply to emails 24 hours at least save them as drafts and send them during work hours.

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