The Importance of Switching Off

[Image - Dean Huttinga]
Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Maintaining a healthy work/life balance is hard at the best of times and a recent survey has revealed we even struggle to switch off while on holiday.

Technology has become indispensable to our daily lives but these new findings demonstrate that it is increasingly standing in the way of achieving a good work/life balance. Holidays should represent time we can rely on to truly relax. They are an opportunity to recalibrate, and not taking this time can have a serious impact on both our emotional and physical well-being.

“74% of male respondents said they checked their emails whilst on holiday, with 44% admitting to checking work emails on a daily basis.”  – Report by Purpleparking.com

These statistics become all the more worrying when we consider the intentions behind the vacation time we plan; 52% booked their last holiday in order to spend quality time with loved ones, with a further 23% citing needing a break from work as a primary motivation.

Karunavira, Senior Trainer at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University, says: “Linking with emails while away on holiday puts our brains on alert and ready for threat. When we check our emails, it puts us on high alert in a situation where we are often powerless to do anything. On top of the worry this generates, an extra layer of tension is added as we then worry about the promises we made to spend time with our families and the promises we made to ourselves; stress begins to spiral.”

Here are some tips to help you switch off when on holiday:


Make a commitment to unplugging. Turn off your phone. Leave your device behind. Maybe even consider booking somewhere to stay without Wi-Fi. Feelings of guilt are a problem when it comes to switching off on holiday, but taking the option of working away will help. 

Family switch off

Challenge the whole family to switch off from technology during the holiday and incentivise children with a treat. Instead, take walks, play games and plan nice things to do together. Not only will you be less tempted to pick up your phone during downtime, but your family will also be providing valuable switch off solidarity.

Plan in advance of your holiday

As well as making a to-do list of tasks to complete after your holiday, make a list of tasks to complete before going away. Ensure that these are achievable so that you begin your holiday with a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind.

Karunavira stresses the importance of giving responsibility to others: “Good planning will help you switch off. Give responsibility to someone else and let go of worrying. That way you are building capacity, both for your work and for yourself.”

If you do need to work, allocate the time

If you do need to catch up on some work, dedicate a proper period of the day to it (perhaps when you are most productive?) and take yourself away somewhere. Don’t do two things at once by absent-mindedly checking emails on the beach or in restaurants. Make a choice between relaxing and working, divide your time and be disciplined about it.

Plus, check out these great time-managment apps: 

Rescue Time: This app runs quietly in the background as you use your phone and then reports in detail on your phone habits allowing you to see the behaviours, websites, applications that are taking your time away from you. The horror of seeing where your time goes will help you to rescue it and use it more productively.

Crunch Time: A time-management app geared towards improving quality of life. This app won’t score you highly for overtime. It values work, but also sleep, socialising, and the things that make you happy. It even has a friends list, meaning you can turn work-life balance into a competitive objective and put shame into overtime!

Pocket: This app lets you to save all the articles, videos and content you come across during the day but don’t have time to read. You can then view it later, everywhere, even offline in a simple viewing format that makes it more readable.

It’s time for you to reclaim technology and restore the balance!