As I write this, I am looking at a beautiful early-morning sun poking through the kitchen window of our house in Duck, N.C. and enjoying a great cup of coffee I just made. I am in the middle of a 14-day vacation — something I haven’t done since 1998, and something I’m doing for the first time in my post-agency consulting life.
And I have to tell you, it’s pretty awesome. I have been able to successfully unplug, leave the world of tech PR behind and enjoy some time with my family (one week at Lake Oquaga, N.Y. and one week in Duck).
OK, that’s about 90 percent true. I do find myself reading the daily updates from TechCrunch, recode and the like, as well as surreptitiously (or not so surreptitiously) checking email, Slack, Twitter, etc. And here’s a few things I’ve figured during these weeks:
- What seems critical to the world of technology and tech PR isn’t to the world at large. I spent the first week with two other couples (and a total of six kids) at a lake house near Binghamton, N.Y. (beautiful Lake Oquaga, pictured above). We have been going together for 13 years — I’ve known “the guys” since I was in 7th grade, which was, well, awhile ago. None of them work in tech (while no one should be defined by their job, for the sake of this piece, I will: one author, one content developer for a major university, two scientist-type guys and one HR executive; two among this group are also trained chefs, and I am not one of those two), nor do they know nor care what a “techcrunch” is.
- That doesn’t mean these things aren’t critical. It just means they don’t have to be for two weeks — as long as you make yourself available for “true” emergencies, and have competent (or in my case, more than competent) backup in place to cover things day-to-day.
- It’s OK to check in now and then. A quick email to a client or reporter or a sanctioned “email check” is fine, as long as you’re not doing so every ten minutes. But save it for important things — follow up on a story in play, checking in on relevant news, etc. And there have been years when I was. I’m doing it more than I would like to be doing it, but that’s my fault, and I’m working on it. At least I didn’t make our family pack up and leave early due to my own neuroses (yes, that did happen and yes, I am still married).
- Speaking of neuroses, writing a blog about the benefits of being unplugged is NOT self-serving nor hypocritical. OK, it completely is, but it makes me feel better.
- Believe it or not, the world will survive without you for two weeks. And in that time, you’ll probably read that Replacements biography that seemed dauntingly long but was actually a quick, fun read — and come back recharged.
- Ice cream and donuts are wonderful. I’ve actually known that for some time, but have definitely re-discovered this important fact the past two weeks.
- Don’t go for a run in Duck, N.C. at noon, particularly after a week of eating said donuts and ice cream. It’s really hot then.
OK, having successfully gotten this out of my system, off to enjoy a second cup of coffee. And maybe a donut.