There’s a disconnect between what vacations should be and what they are. Peaceful days spent lounging in a nice chair, cradling a good book, and sipping a fine (or at the very least acceptable) wine are marred by an incessant stream of work emails, phone calls, and Slack messages.
A Snow study analyzed the technology habits of vacationing Americans, Europeans, and (Pacific) Asians. Asian respondents were most likely to hold a cocktail in one hand and their work phone in another, with 37 percent saying they always bring a work laptop or device on vacation. Americans trailed close behind at 36 percent, and Europeans were most relaxed on holiday, at just 29 percent.
The survey also found millennials were more likely to bring tech to the beach: 37 percent always pack their devices, while just 24 percent of Baby Boomers have that bad habit. The numbers flip on the opposite end of the spectrum—33 percent of older folks never take a device, but only 18 percent of young people fend off temptation.
I watched this happen firsthand on a recent family vacation. “I just need to check one last email,” and, “Ugh, I need to make one more phone call before I’m done,” became anthems for the week. We all struggle to disconnect: The older generations have an ingrained work ethic resulting from family expectations and cultural promises, and we younguns feel ceaseless pressure to achieve peak performance at all times (there’s a reason Millennials are the burnout generation).
Portability made it possibly to work in perpetuity—distance and time zones no longer hinder the work world. Day jobs stretch into evening jobs, morph into late-night jobs, and finally shift to all-the-time jobs. Also, the conflation of pleasure devices and productivity gadgets (phones, laptops, and tablets are both) made it harder to escape the daily grind.
This is not a new observation, but it’s germane to a global culture that prizes efficiency above human limitations, be they physical or psychological. We’ve developed a militant need to always be working toward something; even leisure needs to enhance us in some way. Why read a book we’d enjoy when we could read one to be part of a conversation?
Forgive me for sliding into pat life-coachisms, but sometimes the best way to be efficient is to take some time to be inefficient.