The #1 thing I heard from people coming back from Thanksgiving break in the U.S. was how hard it was to disconnect from work, if they managed to do so at all.
Now, I know that there are times that you really do need to be online, but I've come to observe that more often than not, people stay connected even though they could easily not have been (without the world falling apart).
Really, if you're officially on vacation, and it's not an emergency, then it's OK to stop voraciously checking your email (I promise). What's more, really unplugging for a few days will make you far more relaxed and refreshed—and, thus, a more productive employee when you do get back to the office.
So, in the spirit of spending more time with friends and family in the upcoming holiday season, here are 13 ways to disconnect more (in order of least to most extreme).
If You Just Need a Nudge
1. Keep your phone on silent so you don't get pinged every few minutes.
2. Remove notifications from your phone. That's right, no pop-ups to tell you that so-and-so wants to play Candy Crush, nor little numbers taunting you to open an app. (Here's how for iOS and Android)
3. Use Inbox Pause and only unpause it when you actually want to check email. If something is urgent, people will find a way to get in touch with you. This will reduce your urge to keep checking your email, since nothing new will be there until you take the step of unpausing.
4. Charge your phone and computer in a room you don't frequent often. Not having your smartphone next to your bed when you wake up will work wonders for your check-your-email-first-thing-
5. Plan activities that don't mix well with phones or computers, like going for a walk or a bike ride, seeing a movie, or exploring a new part of town.
For the Social Media Addicts
6. Log out of your social media accounts on your computer (and don't enable auto-login). If you have to put in your password each time, it'll dissuade you from it being a knee-jerk reaction. Bonus points for adding two-factor authentication: more security, and another hurdle to hopping on social networks.
7. Delete the social media apps from your phone. You can reinstall them in under five minutes after the holidays, but the lack of easy access will keep you from browsing Twitter in the corner of the kitchen while your family is spending quality time without you.
For the Seriously Overconnected
9. Don't bring your computer with you when you travel, and just use your phone. If that seems impossible, try bringing a tablet instead.
10. Leave your phone behind when you leave the house.
11. Put your phone on airplane mode and disconnect Wi-Fi. It's easier mentally than having your phone turned off, but really it's not connected to anything.
12. Don't bring a charger with you (or, bring it but have a family member hide it and only given you access every 72 hours or so), so you have to use your phone and computer judiciously to prevent it from dying.
13. When all else fails, go somewhere with no internet and no cell phone signal, like space or the middle of Nevada. But please, don't let it come to that. Your friends and family will thank you.