In September, I was pretty certain it was the craziest month of the year. Back to school, new routines, kid activities, work functions, etc. However, it is December and now I’m certain that this is the craziest month of the year. In fact, in the last 24 hours, I got invited to three more holiday parties, there are three work projects to finish up in the next week, and I’ve hardly had time to think about gifts for the kids. There are end-of-year financials, projects ending, and plans for next year to consider. If you’re like me, you need a serious break, and actually have one coming up. But what will you do with your downtime to ensure you actually unwind, unplug, and rest before taking on a whole new year? Here are a few ideas to consider.
Settle only the critical obligations.
While there are most definitely projects that need to be finished, loose ends to tie up, and important phone calls to make, let’s be honest. Most of what is on your plate can wait until the new year. For example, I am working on a timeline for a project that will definitely go into the new year. Without a hard and fast deadline, I asked my manager if I could build in a one-week buffer to allow for myself and others to not have to work on it over the holidays. She was absolutely fine with this and even applauded me for the suggestion. The point is, while it is nice to have everything finished before taking time off, the reality is there will always be work to be done. Finish up the critical items and bid the rest goodbye until the new year.
Establish a black-out zone.
Results from a study carried out by marketing agency Tecmark find that ‘in an average week, users pick up their phone more than 1,500 times to complete various tasks from emails to playing games and posting to social media.’ They also found ‘the average smartphone user is on their phone for three hours and sixteen minutes a day.’ Understanding that some of this time is very necessary, a large portion of it could be cut out if the device was out of reach.
This is why setting up ‘blackout zones’ can be very effective. Make the main living space in your home a technology-free zone, which means no phone, tablet, laptop or any other device allowed in this room. By removing the ‘offenders,’ you are more likely to truly relax and enjoy those around you. You can even try this when entertaining. Establish a ‘drop-zone’ for peoples’ devices and let them know they are about to enter the ‘black-out zone.’ After all, investing in those you truly love and love you back, instead of countless Facebook friends, is a worthwhile endeavor.
Establish technology-free days.
Admittedly, this will feel like someone has removed one of your limbs. But tucking all devices away and establishing entire technology-free days will again, allow you to unplug and connect with those and the environment around you. Try leaving your phone at home while going snowshoeing with the family. Tuck the tablet away when you’re watching that Christmas movie you’ve seen a million times. Get on the floor and play Legos with the kids without ‘multi-tasking’ on your device (yes, I’m guilty of this for sure). And get those around you in on it too! Turn off the TV, sounds on your phone, anything that beckons you to check a gadget. After awhile, you’ll begin to enjoy the freedom of not being strapped to a device.
The most important thing is to tell others what you are doing so they can hold you accountable. Let everyone around you know that you plan to unwind, unplug, and connect during your time off and then stick to your guns. Best of luck and we wish you a very happy holiday filled with joy, laughter, and connection (people, not your wireless!).