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Unplugging & Why It Is So Hard

Last week I was on vacation. I was so excited to finally have a break, unplug, and leave all of the drama of work and work-related issues behind. However, I found myself on my email a lot more than what I would have liked. As I think back, it didn't affect my vacation. I checked my email every morning before it was warm enough to go to the beach. While my vacay friends were reading books on the patio, I was checking my emails and working through problems each morning. I was able to unplug after that morning check-in and enjoy the rest of my time on the beach, going out to each, and exploring the town we stayed at. But, why did I feel compelled to keep working each day?

Computer on the beach

Welp, first it was the idea of coming back to an inbox full of emails and knowing that I had a full day of meetings on that upcoming Tuesday (how would I ever catch up?). Second, it was the idea of there are problems out there that *only I* could fix (note - there is no problem out there that you are the ONLY one who can fix it). And lastly, it was because every time I grabbed my phone to take a picture or look up somewhere to eat, I saw this icon with a growing number beside it. By mid-afternoon I saw the number 53 and started getting anxiety about what's going on? What's wrong? Why am I getting so many emails? While 53 may not seem like many emails - let me note that I don't get a lot of SPAM emails.

My ability to unplug became difficult because of a stupid app on my phone.

Unplugging is vital to anyone's ability to keep contributing to their job. You have to step away and gain a sense of who you are outside of work. I believe this is even more important for those in positions such as instructional designers, e-learning developers, curriculum positions, etc. When you are required to be creative and solve-problems on a daily basis - it can quite literally drain you. I know there is a ton of research out there on how unplugging and taking vacations are beneficial - you can look it up if you are interested. I'm blogging on my own experiences and my own personal need to unplug and reset. For future vacations or little getaways - I plan on moving the app on my phone to somewhere I can't see (because let's be real - deleting and resetting the application is just way more work).

After my return from vacation, I did ease back into my routine a bit easier because I had been playing catch up on my emails throughout the week. But I also did not feel as refreshed as I would have liked. By reading my emails, I kept my projects in the back of my mind - which limited my ability to actually step away from my projects and come back with fresh eyes. It's a double-edge sword. I think each person is going to have their own way of taking breaks and vacations. When I reflect on this some more, I realize that even when I take breaks at work - I'm still on my phone. I go for a walk around campus - guess what's in my hand? Go out for lunch instead of staying in - guess what's in my hand? In a meeting where I should be paying attention - yup, there it is again - my phone in my hand. For me - I think there is a deeper need to unplug even throughout the day. Sometimes I'll turn my email off when working on a specific project. Why can't I do that when taking a walk to a meeting in another building?

Long story short - this post is talking about how I need to unplug and reflect more during the day. This post is a reminder to take breaks - good quality breaks - to keep up with my own creativity and not burn yourself to the ground. I hope this reflection helps you to think about how you need to unplug and where you can take sometime for yourself.

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