A quest to tame technology-driven interruptions and distractions in my daily life.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and five year old pushed off for a good-old-fashioned, week-long, family road trip vacation. True to form, I didn’t check work email and generally checked out. Here are the top five things I learned on my summer vacation.

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5. A road atlas gets you there quicker. There being on vacation—not in the destination sense but in the sense of the journey. With a web browser or smartphone app, we tend to get caught up on the quickest route to the destination and where we are right now, but with a paper map or atlas, it’s much more a matter or trusting the journey and letting go.

4. It’s hard to get away. Even though I delegated projects and gave others full authority to run the business while I was out, I only had 1 weekday where I didn’t get a work call or got text requests from my team. They knew I was off of email, but perhaps the temptation to just check with me on this or that was too great. Next time, I’m picking a place with absolutely no cell reception.

3. There’s no rush except the one we create. I generally spend my days in a hurry. I try to take it easy at home, but once I leave for the day, its all go go go. But when you’re putting across the country with a five year old, there’s only so fast you can go. Bathroom breaks, silly stops, wrong turns… it was an excellent reminder to enjoy the ride and to not pack so much in.

2. Be where you are. Similar to #3, without things to do and places to be, I re-learned how to just be wherever I was: IHOP. On a farm road in the panhandle. Wandering around Denver. Another IHOP. Certainly, not being online or at my computer helped me remember what it’s like to not be expected somewhere… and that’s part of the point of a vacation. Which leads me to…

1. You can’t get perspective if you’re 2 feet from a screen. And I need that kind of perspective a lot more than once a year. Although I realize a vacation is a commonly heralded ritual, it’d been a few years since we took one. I had forgotten a lot about myself and the world. And what I hadn’t forgotten, I’d exaggerated or willfully ignored. In other words, I haven’t been myself. I’ve been living to work. Even limited, the screens come between the me I see and the me I am at rest.

All in all, I got really relaxed and remembered what’s what. Next time I won’t wait so long.

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