Blog iconCIOs share their secrets to unplugging on vacation [CIO]

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CIOs share their secrets to unplugging on vacation [CIO]

from CIO Magazine


IT executives have learned how to build strong, reliable and trustworthy teams so that no one person is the single point of contact. That not only allows for more efficiency, it lets CIOs unplug on summer vacations.

“I put a lot of stock into a work-life balance,” says Jennifer Minella, vice president of engineering at Carolina Advanced Digital. She admits that learning to disconnect was a process for her, but she says she realized that she needed to change her habits and mindset.

Many have the intention of leaving work at work, but the need for peace of mind or the fear of disaster keeps them connected, especially when they have access to work email on their phones, which are always with them. “I’d tell myself that I was just going to check my mail to stay ahead of the curve and delete the junk, but checking it wasn’t putting me ahead, it was putting me behind,” says Minella.

“It’s like a diet,” says Minella. “If it’s not sustainable, it won’t work.”

Baby steps to disconnecting

So what is the best diet for disconnecting? “Take little bites,” Minella says. “I started by trying not to look at my email at night. I wake up at about 4:30 a.m., so it was only about four hours to start, but I realized that nothing happened during those four hours.”

It’s these small steps that make being able to completely disconnect for a week’s vacation possible. Minella says her process for ensuring that all runs smoothly in her absence addresses three concerns: preparation, team and mindset.

In preparing for a vacation, executives can let people know that they will be gone and who their escalation point contacts are, says Minella, who puts an auto reply on her email days or even a week before she is going away to alert partners, customers and colleagues that she’ll be out of the office.

Minella echoes the thoughts of other executives who have come to rely on their teams to be able to handle critical situations. “It’s important to be surrounded by people you trust, to be able to offload onto them, and that they are able to make authorizations in your absence,” Minella says, adding that the keys to building a strong team are “communication, collaboration and trust.”

What’s most important factor to being able to relax and enjoy a vacation? “Being OK with not staying on top of things. In our heads we always think we are working,” says Minella. Shifting the mindset to accept that they trust their staff will help them to relax a little bit more.

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