35 Days without Email


It’s said that over 400,000,000 vacation days are wasted annually. Combine that with the numbers of people who keep up with email on vacation, and something’s out of whack!

“I am on a 35-day trip celebrating our 35th anniversary. I will not be checking email or reading any email that comes in during that time. Please email me after August 17th, and I’ll connect with you then.”

I posted that out-of-office message on July 13th, this year, and that’s exactly what I did. I actually deleted my account from my iPhone and then deleted all emails that had come in while I was gone without reading them. I knew if I didn’t do that, I’d cheat and look at them while on vacation in order to avoid the hundreds that would be in my inbox. Our director of business operations was a contact in case of an emergency. I trusted her judgment completely on whether or not to contact me. The need never arose.

Going for 35 days without email had some wonderful benefits:

1) In really getting away from the daily flow of work, I slept better and had absolutely no physical symptoms of stress during the time away.

2) My husband and I had real quality time together, with deeper conversations and no sense of hurry or stress as we traveled.

3) I came back totally refreshed and ready to dive back into work. My ability to listen was strengthened, and my problem solving was much more effective.

4) I serve on the prayer team at church, and my prayers for others and myself were more energized and focused.

Was there a cost? Only one client chose to hire someone else rather than wait for my return. I’m okay with that, because the benefits I experienced far outweighed the costs.

Whenever I share doing this, I get two reactions—disbelief and envy. The envy comes from the wish they could do it, too; and the disbelief comes from the fact that they’re not sure it can really be done.

I’m here to testify that it can be done, and the ROI is great!

1 trip to Osh Kosh, Black Hills, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons—Lovely
5,000 miles in a Roadtrek—Cozy
1 formidable hailstorm—Scary
1.3 million motorcycles (Sturgis 75th rally)—Noisy
35 days without email—Priceless!