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Vacation Like a Boss: How to Unplug and Leave the Office Behind

Some of the strongest memories of my childhood are of summer vacations. The idea of spending time away from home with my family always brought excitement. Packing our bags and getting away for a while was the one thing I truly looked forward to once school let out. Funny thing is, it didn’t matter where we went.

Back then, there was only one way to be connected to anyone outside a little vacation world: Through the phone in your hotel or the nearest payphone. Today, pressing pause is easier said than done.

As an adult and a CEO, unplugging tends to be a bit more challenging. On a recent vacation, my husband and I purposely decided to keep our phones turned off. Our friends would have understood if we didn’t. No one would have noticed if we “snuck a peek.” Vacationing with children is different because a lifelong memory is hanging in the balance. At a young age, the quality time is the vacation. A moment spent glued to your cell phone on vacation is a moment lost forever. Positive or negative, that memory can last long into adulthood.

Never forget how important it is to keep the promise of a family vacation. Once on vacation, we must vacate! For your children, sitting by a pool with your iPad doesn’t count. Teaching the value of human interactions is a much bigger deal.

As a CEO who is constantly attached to their phone, you may find that just a few days of disconnecting can make you a better spouse, parent, friend and professional. Being present triggers creativity and can make all the difference once you reenter the work world. If unplugging feels like a challenge, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Silence is Golden– Step away from the phone or at the very least put it on silent and keep it someplace that is not physically on you.
  2. Baby steps– If you must engage on social media or check email, give yourself a 20 minute window to use your phone, when the time is up, put the phone down and wait for the next 20 minute window the following day.
  3. Auto Response– The vacation feature in your email is there for a reason. Start using it one week prior to your vacation and announce the dates you will be away. This will allow people to plan, and should result in less incoming messages while you are on vacation.
  4. Challenge Yourself-Make it a challenge among the people you are vacationing with (ie, whoever checks the phone first, buys dinner or the first person to check work email loses an opportunity to pick the next activity.) Get creative and chose a challenge that fits the group you are with.
  5. Be Present– Most importantly, use this time to be present and make memories. Some of the best memories are stored in our minds and not in the photo album of your phone.

Theresa Roemer is the CEO of Theresa Roemer, LLC and a small business owner who specializes in business philanthropy. She owns several home goods companies in Houston, Texas and is a partner in Roemer Oil.

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