The jet lag has almost passed… I’ve nearly caught up with the backlog of messages on my various social platforms… expenses are almost done… and i’m about to hit Outlook and clear my email inbox. Yes, I’ve just come back from nearly 4.5 weeks away on holiday (vacation) and barring a few conversations on Teams with my team, I managed to switch off almost 100%… In fact this is my first blog post in more than a month!
To be honest, this is something that I thought I would ever do and on one side I feel somewhat ok about it… while on the other I have a case of mild agita over needing to catch up and get back into the groove of work life.
“Don’t F*cking Tell me to Switch Off!!!”
This was the original title of the post (modified to soften the blow) and mainly relates to the bucket load of messages and comments telling me to switch off while on leave as I started this trip. This is something I have experienced throughout my career and I see it all the time when people make the “mistake” of checking into Twitter, or posting in Slack when they are on vacation.
There is almost nothing I find more frustrating than people telling me (or others) how to spend my time… be it on holiday or otherwise and especially when it comes to work related matters. I’ve written before about work/life balance and how I have struggled to achieve that over the years and in fact the whole work/life balance in IT has become a real topic since then and there have been many people that have written about their own personal struggles.
To that end, when people tell me to switch off, I tend to respond with what is stated above and the immediate thought that resonates in my mind is that I’ll switch off when and if I damn well please! And if I don’t, then that is ok as well! If I feel balance and I am ok in myself, then it’s something that is in my control and not the place for others to try and dictate to me.
Regardless… I Did Switch Off
When it comes to my thoughts around switching off… it comes down to the fact that my hobby is also my job and my career. Tinkering is how I learn and an important component of learning is staying connected and engaged with the various online communities and content sources. This is why I find it hard to completely switch off. I don’t deny that there is a physiological side to this which equates to an addiction… it’s well documented that we thrive on the hits of dopamine that come from social reward.
For us as techies, that social reward is linked to emails, messages, Tweets, likes, hits, views etc. I’ll be honest and admit that I do crave all those things as well as social interaction with my workmates. However as I settled into my holiday I began to replace the need for technical reward with that of personal and family rewards that generated different types of dopamine hits.
The max hit came while at a local village feast in Gozo where memories of my childhood trips to Malta came flooding back… and as I ate my third Imaret I was at max switch off level and knew that I had succeeding in doing something I thought not possible! Total disconnect!
I captured that moment below in the fourth picture… this is for me as a reminder of where I can get to if I ever feel the need to switch off again.
Ultimately I was able to not touch my MBP for work all holiday and I let myself drift away from my connected world without much thought or fear of missing out… for the most 🙂
I still did a bit here and there, but not nearly as much as I had thought. Now that I am back, it’s time to get into the connected world and get back to what I do… stay engaged, stay connected and stay switched on!