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Rules for Having Only Fun with Technology during the Holidays

Some of us need a little nudging—more like a good shaking—to remind us we’re actually not at work. The pull to check your email, send a file, tweak a deliverable, or post to a work-related social media account is constant and tempting. Even chocolate and good company is no match because separating yourself from something you’re deeply committed to and engaged by is a challenge.

But in the end, the people that really suffer are the people you care most about—your friends and family. Your kids can’t get through to “Blackberry Dad” and your friends don’t want to hang out with “Social Media Sarah.” It’s a conundrum you have to find a graceful way out of, and there are definitely some things worth trying to make it work. No judgments here, just helpful rules, from equally tech-work absorbed people, for making the most of your time off for the holidays.

Rule #1 – Turn off all work-related devices and streams. Go cold turkey for a few days. Not every email needs a right-now response, and you’ll be surprised to find that some things work themselves out when given a little bit of time.

Rule #2 – Make every computer/mobile interaction just for fun. It’s impossible in this day and age to unplug completely, and why should you when technology is this much fun? So when you find that shiny new iPad under the tree, boot it up for no other reason than entertainment.

Rule #3 – Set up emergency contact protocol and stick to it. Not everyone can abide by rule #1. Some gigs are just too demanding, but you can filter what’s important. Give your contact info to someone you trust, and tell them to reach out only for emergencies. Then, relax and enjoy yourself.

Rule #4 – Spend some quality online time with the kids. Hang out with your kids online over the holidays, and get ready to learn a few things. You may not make it on their Facebook profiles, at least the one their friends see, but you’ll get to see what sites they like and what digital haunts they frequent.

Rule #5 – Let yourself be engaged by the present moment. Living a digital life, one gets pretty used to navigating a constant stream of information. This is a good thing when you’re trying to manage a project with several moveable parts. It’s not a good thing, though, when grandma is telling you a story. Just listen. Don’t think about your next tweet or worry about shaving more time from a task to stay on track.

All right, enough with the instruction manual. It’s the time of year when sharing time and making memories with the important people in your life is the hippest and most connected thing in the world. Everyone does this in their own way, and the time has officially arrived. I’m signing out now to spread the joy.