Tech-Free Vacation: Why Unplugging Isn't Practical - InformationWeek

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12/23/2014
08:06 AM
Roni Amiel
Roni Amiel
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Tech-Free Vacation: Why Unplugging Isn't Practical

Many of us crave a holiday break from technology, but sometimes it's easier said than done.

Most of us probably spend more quality time connected to various devices than we do with the people we hold dear. Sure, technology is remarkable -- but nowadays we crave a break from the work emails and phone calls that consume us. But is a true break from technology really practical?

Probably not. According to a 2012 Time magazine poll, 84% of people said that they could not go a single day without their cellphones, while 68% admitted they even sleep with their phone next to them like a teddy bear.

As freeing as an unplugged holiday may seem, it's just not practical for me in my role as a CIO/CISO. Take the consequences of working in a global market. This has forced me to increase my visibility and availability, and to maintain a high level of reliability when it comes to technology assets -- all of which I lose if I vow not to check email or take work calls.

(Image: Pixabay)
(Image: Pixabay)

There's also the role I play in security and risk management. Given the rising number of security breaches -- and knowing that hackers don't always attack during business hours -- I need to be available around the clock. Finally, transformative and disruptive technologies come into play. Though they're often helpful, they also mean that CIOs are further expected to be available should problems arise. In a hospital environment, for example, these technologies might include a decision support system or a clinical intelligence solution that clinicians rely on to make patient care decisions.

[Sometimes you can't unplug even if you try. Read 7 Excuses To Avoid Family Tech Support.]

But on a more personal level, disconnecting during the holidays would also impact my interactions with friends and family -- we Skype with relatives, Facebook with friends, and engage on Twitter, for example. Disavowing technology for my immediate family means less quality time with my extended family, too.

Though some people might view technology as a burden during time off, I'm actually thankful for it. Being connected means I can take a week-long vacation and not worry that my absence might cause a catastrophe in my organization -- because people know they can reach me if they must. (Still, not once in my career have I received "the call" while away -- that notification that a critical information asset failed and was likely to impact core services. Knock on wood.)

I learned very early in my career that taking time off and staying connected is a delicate balance. If a crisis arises where I absolutely have to work, I carve out a set period of time during the day to do so. I'm also able to recognize when my presence is not absolutely necessary, and I know when to just say no.

Here's what I recommend for balancing work while on vacation: First, be proactive about scheduling and build downtime into your schedule. In that time, focus on those activities that add value, and consider outsourcing or delegating the stuff that doesn't. Finally, realize that a little relaxation goes a long way in helping you recharge.

What are your plans for managing (or avoiding) technology this vacation? Let's hear your thoughts.

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Roni Amiel has served as the CIO and CISO at the Blythedale Children's Hospital since 2011. Previously, he worked as CIO/CISO for the office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York's Department of Health. He holds degrees and has completed academic programs in ... View Full Bio
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Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
1/1/2015 | 6:53:55 AM
Re: That's why you get paid the big bucks
Broadway,

I also happen to be in the same boat.

Have u tried compartmentalizing your Information access?[When you are accessing News ,you view only News no Social Media,No Email ,No Chats???].

That seems to work for me.

Problem with Social Media (for me personally) is that I waste too much valuable time there whenever I go online.

So I avoid it as much as I can.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2014 | 10:33:01 PM
Re: That's why you get paid the big bucks
I have tried disconnecting from the Internet before. I can disconnect from email pretty easily, definitely FB and Twitter too. No problem. It's reading online that is a problem for me, as I digest most of my newspaper material now online.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2014 | 7:55:12 AM
Re: That's why you get paid the big bucks
Broadway,

This is a legitimate Business oppurtunity all across Asia today[India,China and South Korea]-

More HERE-timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Delhi-gets-its-first-internet-de-addiction-centre/articleshow/38824454.cms&news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4327258.stm

From one of the Articles-counsellors and psychologists guide children as young as 10 years old to participate in activities such as indoor games and engage in conversations with each other.


These are most definitely a series of Legitimate Operations.


If you think its that easy to disconnect from the Internet why don't you try it yourself just for a weekend? LOL!!!

Believe me it ain't easy!

Even here in America,I have heard of many such "Super-Private" Clinics especially in California that handle this critical issue.You can also see here
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2014 | 9:30:25 PM
Re: That's why you get paid the big bucks
Internet De-Addiction Clinics? I am in the wrong business! Are these legit operations or simply snake oil salesmen who are taking advantage of the latest addiction fad? Can families have a member committed to one of these clinics if they become too terribly annoying with their mobile activities?
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2014 | 12:56:45 AM
Re: Tech-Free Vacation: Why Unplugging Isn't Practical
Impactnow,

Have to agree entirely with your Sentiments here.

These kind of Life and Death Situations demand the highest amount of attention and care (which can't be provided by a Temp Backup).

This is where creating a workable Infrastructure of Command ensures that no avoidable tragedy happens(or circumstances force such a situation).
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2014 | 12:48:37 AM
Re: That's why you get paid the big bucks
Broadway,

The thing that upsets most Obama fans about him is that he Promised to be so much different (from the Typical DC insider) but eventually he turned out to be the same .

I am no big fan of Bush Junior but atleast he spent most of his Vacations on his Ranch(at Minimal Taxpayer Expense);With the Obamas in contrast its just one Grand Million Dollar Vacation after another...

Surely,There is a better use of Taxpayer Resources than this Extravagance?

As far as Tech Overload goes its very much a relevant theme today and its also why you have Internet De-Addiction Clinics sprouting up all over the Globe(but especially in all those Broadband /High-Speed Hotspots like South Korea).

 
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2014 | 9:22:33 PM
Re: That's why you get paid the big bucks
Ashuu, that is too funny. It certainly depends on your political persuasion when it comes to presidents and vacations because I am sure plenty of people would take your Obama sentence and replace his name with his predecessor's!

But you're right about tech overload. Information is coming at us in so many ways, at such speeds.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2014 | 7:53:40 PM
Re: Tech-Free Vacation: Why Unplugging Isn't Practical
I realize it may not be practical for all of us to unplug, but it is so worth the effort for those that can do it. I've done it before and is was really worth it. I came back much more refreshed. My job didn't require me to check my email, but I felt the urge to check my personal emails. I resisted the urge and have to say that I had a very relexing break and was less stressed. The longer I abstained from checking my email and from sending emails, the easier it became.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
12/29/2014 | 4:27:24 PM
Re: Tech-Free Vacation: Why Unplugging Isn't Practical

 

In a life or death type of business I think it's most practical to have a backup that tis not on vacation. If we rely on someone that is travelling for those types of issues the consequences could literally cost someone their life. Creating an infrastructure of command when someone is away is the best way to handle those issues.

kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2014 | 11:29:33 AM
tech free enough
Be available but not too available. As a freelancer I have to set hours where I respond to email/phone calls, especially when I'm vacationing. If I'm needed i'm there but no one expects me to drop what I'm doing to serve them. Let them know you're not actively working that week so hopefully they only contact you in an emergency.

I'm not sure I could really ever go tech free on vacation unless the location itself was not connected. Skype, little app games to unwind from the realitives, and a healthy need to read everything about the destination migt hamper that. But if I can get it so the tech is helping me enjoy my downtime not adding to my burden (like the sheer amount of suitcases it takes to get my family anywhere.) Then that's tech free enough.

 
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