The Best Part of My Vacation Was Removing Email From My Phone

For the first time in my career, I resolved not to check my email when I should be relaxing.

It’s Thursday morning and I’m sitting by a private pool overlooking the ocean in Mexico in what’s essentially a mini resort that my college friends and I have all to ourselves. The sun is out, my SPF is on and I’ve just cracked a book I’ve been meaning to read for months…

…and I cannot stop worrying about whether the newsletter I built and scheduled earlier this week went out at 8 a.m. this morning as planned. The logical side of my brain says yes, of course it did. You’ve scheduled hundreds of newsletters before and there’s no way you made a mistake when you scheduled this one. But the little anxious voice in the back of my head is saying hey, there’s a first time for everything.

It’s a perfect example of the position I (and maybe you, too) usually find myself in on vacation. I get everything squared away before I leave but can’t help checking in to make sure things are running smoothly. Random work worries pop into my brain out of nowhere and nag at me until I’ve confirmed there’s nothing to be concerned about. On this trip however, I promised myself I’d do things differently.

Taking my work email off my phone (temporarily) was my best option if I really wanted to unplug and avoid the anxiety of seeing that little red number on my mail icon creep higher and higher.

As I left work on Tuesday night, I told my boss she wouldn’t hear a peep from me until Monday morning, which she was more than on board with. It’s Thrive after all, and we practice what we preach here. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, before I left for JFK airport, I disabled work email from my smartphone. (To give you a sense of how new this was for me, I had to Google how to do it.) I was borderline giddy with excitement. Five whole days with no work email. I couldn’t even imagine what that would feel like but I couldn’t wait to find out.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Things were all sunshine and coconuts until I woke up Thursday morning. My newsletter anxiety hit — hard. I started debating whether I should peek at my email to make sure it sent properly. Just a tiny peek. But I’d told my friends about my no work email vow the night before, and here’s where things got interesting.

I’m lucky to have ambitious, hard-working friends who are all deeply invested in their careers. And none of them were even considering checking their work email in Mexico. In fact they were slightly horrified that I was thinking about it. Some hadn’t even activated their international data plans or connected to the property’s WiFi (the horror).

They started talking me down using the method they know works best on me: straight-up honesty and logic. If I checked my work email and something had gone wrong, would it really make me feel better (Nope.) And exactly how much triage do I think I’d be able to do from Mexico? (Not much. The drinks were strong but the WiFi was weak.)

They had a point. Popping into my email wouldn’t ease my anxiety — if I had made a mistake I’d beat myself up over it and ruin my days of R&R. Plus, someone else would have noticed that the newsletter didn’t go out and fixed it. That’s what having a team of coworkers is for.

My anxiety lessened over the next few hours and by that night, work was the last thing on my mind. I enjoyed Friday, Saturday and Sunday free of worries and any impulse to check email.

Did I come back on Monday morning to a very full inbox? You bet. And if your job is anything like mine, you probably will too if you completely disconnect. But it’s so worth it. Once my Thursday morning anxiety passed, I was more relaxed than I’ve been in months — possibly years — and I came back to work more recharged than after past trips. I’ll never check my work email on vacation again.