Day 43: Out of Office

It’s a weird time to go on vacation, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. Today is Friday, June 12, 2020, and I won’t be back at work until Monday, June 22, 2020.

I feel like I should be excited, or at least relaxed and carefree. Mostly I just feel uneasy for reasons I can’t put my finger on.

Anywho, I am looking forward to a full week in the mountains of western North Carolina, even if my excitement seems to be a little delayed in its arrival.

A Delayed Launch

We had planned a beach vacation for back in May, but the pandemic squashed those plans. We regrouped and decided a vacation spent hiking, watching movies, reading, playing board games, grilling, going on walks, and getting lost on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) was a better fit for this strange time.

On Sunday we’ll head north into the North Carolina mountains where we’ve rented a cabin a mile off the BRP. We’ll be there a full week and then drive home next Sunday.


I make a big deal about the importance of truly and fully disconnecting. Ask any of the colleagues I interact with regularly and they’ll confirm: I’m serious about respecting my right and need to disconnect from time-to-time, and about encouraging others to do the same.

So here’s what disconnecting looks like to me over the next week:

  1. I turned off email and Slack notifications on my phone.
  2. I set myself “away” on Slack, turned on Do Not Disturb, and set a status indicating I was on vacation.
  3. I signed out of all social media accounts.
  4. I set up an “out of office” responder on my work email.
  5. I removed the Slack and Gmail icons from my phone’s home screen.
  6. I removed my calendar preview from my phone’s home screen and turned off calendar notifications.
  7. I let my coworkers know that if there’s an emergency and they need to reach me, they’re going to have to actually call or text.

Over the next week I plan not to check email or Slack at all. If there’s an emergency, they’ll call.

Why Disconnect?

I work hard. I take my job seriously and even when I’m not standing at my computer, I’m communicating with colleagues on my phone and thinking about work.

I’m not describing 24/7 connectivity. I am careful to disconnect every day and have some built in guard rails to try and avoid burning out.

However, despite the daily breaks I give my brain, I still find that sometimes I just get tired and the only way for me to truly recover is to fully disconnect for several days.

Doing my job well is really important to me, and an important part of operating at peak effectiveness is to be mentally sharp and emotionally resilient. To do that, I have to disconnect from time to time.

So disconnecting isn’t about being lazy or selfish. Disconnecting is about maximizing my effectiveness.

Featured image by Benedikt Geyer on Unsplash

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