Tuesday, July 02, 2013

CIO Advice for Taking Summer Vacations

Lounge Chairs Under A Palm Tree Summer time. Lemonade. Swimming at the beach. Nature hikes. Sailing. Summer movies. Gourmet picnics. Outdoor music. Margaritas. Hammocks. Gardening. Barbecues. Novels. Biking. Fishing. Festivals. Peaches.

But can you break away from the email? Delegate attendance on a key conference call? Complete your key tasks before jumping in the plane or car? Read something non-technical?

Can you turn off your mind from solving problems?

These are the things I think about in the days heading into summer vacations. Can I get a clean break, avoid the temptations to get pulled back into the grind, and use the time for both relaxation and enrichment?

I have to admit, it's hard and I'm rarely 100% successful. You plan your vacation months before, so who's to say that you can truly pull out from whatever priorities, crises, or other scheduling conflicts.

So the best to I can, here are some tips:

  • Bury the email - Leave the iphone in the car or hotel. Hide the email app so it's hard to reach. Let's face it, we're going to bring these devices but we don't have to let them advertise what you're missing at the office. I look, but try to read email early in the morning or later at night.

  • Stack the Kindle - I'm optimistic that I will get to read books on vacation and I'm not talking about the top management, technical, or financial books. So I'll stack my Kindle app with novels, travel, and other books that pull me in new directions. I like to jump from book to book and rarely make it end to end on a single book one at a time, so before the trip I will do my research and have several selected.

  • Set Priorities - Make sure your team has clear marching orders for when you are away and let them know what you want to review when you return. Set "read out" sessions in advance. Hopefully, this will give you a sense that things are moving along in your absence and help you avoid getting into the weeds while away.

  • Teach something / learn something - In order to fill the problem solving void, pick one or more learning topics. This may be something new to teach your kids, something out of left field for you to read and learn about, or an activity that will immerse you in something new to experience.

  • If needed, establish a Bat Phone - If you are truly concerned how someone should reach you in the face of a real, unexpected crisis, give a trusted lieutenant or your assistant a non-email, best way to reach you.

  • Build Memoirs - I photo and blog my vacations. You may have another family member doing this already, but I highly suggest taking on an active role. Sorting and tagging photos, or documenting your travel story - in addition to building memories for the future - is another way to feed your technical urges to download or tinker with apps.

Happy Summer


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