Last week I started packing for my week-long yoga retreat. Yoga clothes? A necessity. Yoga mat? I like to travel with a light one. Journal?  Of course. Make-up? Leaving that at home this trip. Laptop? Ugh. I can’t seem to leave it at home.

Technology has allowed all of us to have a lot more flexibility in our work lives these days, but at what expense? Can we ever really unplug? I am still trying to figure out how. Every time I pack for anything, I bring my laptop with me.

I try to chalk it up to the fact that I’m in my 40s, and these are my income generating years. I recently left a job in management to work full-time on my holistic coaching and business mentoring business, so I had to revamp my website and get the word out to everyone about the two nutrition plans I just wrote… and everything else I’ve been up to. You know what that means? Yes, I’ve been living on Facebook, blogging like crazy, writing newsletters, etc. I need to keep on top of my game in this crazy, competitive economy.

But I’m always questioning the price my body is paying for being such a workaholic. Isn’t the point of this yoga retreat to relax and recharge? Don’t I deserve a break after so many months of 12-hour days? So why is my laptop open?! Do I really need to be scheduling my posts for the entire week on Hootesuite right now when I feel that warm summer breeze coming in through my window? No! I’m on vacation!

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who finds myself sneaking onto my laptop or glancing a peek at my iPhone in order to squeeze just a bit more work in. There are always those few minutes before bed, the few minutes in the morning, the few minutes relaxing on the beach, the few minutes while the kids are playing games… The list begins to expand until we begin to realize that we are simply doing what we do at home but in a slightly more pleasant location.

Isn’t the point of getting away, especially on family vacations, to spend more time with ourselves and with those we love? Life is so busy at home, I often feel like I am not spending any time with those who sleep under the same roof as me. So, something just isn’t right when you and your family plan a vacation to get rid of the intensity of life, and then you bring your work with you!

Here I was at Kripalu, one of the most world renowned yoga and meditation retreats. I practiced five hours a day with one of my favorite teachers, Desiree Rumbaugh, who always has a way of bringing me back into the reality of who I really am. I headed back to my room, feeling light and refreshed, with a natural smile on my face. And, I saw my laptop staring at me from the corner of my eye. Ignore it!  Ignore it! I reached for the book by the side of my bed. Then I heard my iPhone beeping. Oh god, come on! Hmmm… well there are a few things I could take care of. All of a sudden, what I told myself would take 15 minutes sucked me in for 3 hours!

Why don’t I get it? Why don’t any of us get it? Going on a vacation meant taking a break! Many of us Americans are obsessed with working all the time, no breaks, no stopping—even when it comes to family. Everyone, myself (especially) included, needs to just stop and take a pause with no exceptions.

Next vacation I am determined not to repeat this year’s mistakes. So, here are some of my new tips for actually leaving work behind.
  1. Set auto-reply “away” messages for your email accounts.
  2. If you manage other people, delegate tasks that you would normally do.
  3. Trust other people to do the work—you don’t have to do everything!
  4. Let everyone know you’re going on vacation ahead of time so they can schedule around your time off, not bother you, and make things work without you.
You may be a very important person, but the work world will keep revolving even if you disappear for a week or two! Put away your phone and computer, because no matter what happens, it will tempt you to just take that one call or answer that one email. It’s not worth it. Remember your priorities. I know how hard it is in this technological, modern era to just let go of the mobile world, but the memories of your vacation will last forever. Those emails will—most certainly—not. 


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