It’s summer. It’s that time of the year for harmonic convergence known as “summer vacation.” School is out. Days are long. Kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement as they anticipate summer fun on their family vacations.  Queue up Chevy Chase and Lindsay Buckingham, “Holiday Road”!!!!

Remember when you were those kids bouncing off the walls? Where did you go and what did do? I sure do. We spent weeks in the summer at a place called Sylvan Beach. Sylvan Beach is on the eastern shore of Oneida Lake in upstate New York. It was home to a turn of the century amusement and theme park. It had all the essentials: the “Hammer”, the “Tilt-a-Hurl”, Haunted House, Wild Mouse, “Barrel of Fun”, Bumper cars, the “Mother of All Carousels” and yes “Skee Ball”. We would take our boat (the orange “tri-hull”) about 30 miles across the lake and run it right up onto the beach next to the vacation cabins we stayed in. I can still smell the fires on beach!

But I digress. Now, fast forward to our present-day world. The challenge is to “Manage Out!” This means planning what we will NOT do on our summer vacation.  At Voltage Leadership, we apply a management tool called “the 5 Gears” (by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram) for those who really need to be present when there doesn’t seem to be enough time. One of those 5 gears is First Gear. First Gear is defined as 100% completely unplugged. This means no “smart” phones, PC’s or internet period. Is that realistic I today’s world?

Only you can answer that. Here are some tips and tools to help you try to achieve First Gear.

·       Planning - Planning builds anticipation and anticipation builds excitement. Plan your vacations well and revel in thinking about what you’ll do. No bigger bummer than a vacation that fails to deliver.

·       Domestic Outsourcing - Housekeeping and childcare are inevitable if you’ve got little ones. Build in some adults only downtime. Bring along a best friend who can be a built-in babysitter. They will become family.

·       To Work or Not to Work -That IS the question. How much control do you have over the situation?  Are you taking calls because your boss is making you? If you must connect, set limits on when and what you will do. For example, working a half an hour each morning before the rest of your family wakes up may be a good compromise.

·       Email Does Not Get its Own Lounge Chair on Your Vacation. Agree upon and communicate beforehand your out of office accessibility before you leave the office. This includes your boss or any other key contacts. Is it a 15-min check in once in the AM every other day? Is that too much?

·       Stop Thinking that the World Revolves Around You - It can make you feel like you are trapped in a cage with lots of pressure. Remember, for this brief period of time, your Family revolves around you. Name a delegate for you before you leave that can handle things in your absence. This not only helps you but can be a development opportunity for them.

·       Have Some Fun – Do you remember how?

For a deeper dive on tips to achieve First Gear while on vacation, check out this episode of the VoltCast radio show, Illuminating Leadership.