mark ulriksen for the new yorker

This recent New Yorker cover by Mark Ulriksen called “Capturing the Memories” is, curiously, the perfect illustration the New York Times article Call Waiting: It’s Me, Your Vacation: Eight Rules for Getting the Most Out of Your Time Off that appeared a week before.  outlines “Vacation Mental Prep”  for people who have a hard time letting go of the devices – phones, ipads, computers – that keep them constantly connected and unable to being PRESENT during their vacation. It’s a subject that seems to be on eveyone’s mind these days.

The gist of the Times piece is this: withdrawing from constant device use – or the need to be doing something – is a practice, something that you have to cultivate rather than go at cold turkey. You’ve got to help your brain make the transition from always ‘on’ to ‘off’,  and it’s a good idea to be doing that daily. (The whole article goes into much more detail, including the neuroscience behind it; you’ll find it here or here.

Leo Barbauta over at Zen Habits recommends blocking off some disconnected time.

“… schedule some time every day for disconnection: maybe a block in the morning where you get your best work done, and a block in the afternoon when you get out and active, or connect with friends or family.”

Another of Barbuta’s approaches is to take a break every 30 minutes from “being connected”, when you totally switch gears into something REAL.

As glorious as our gadgets are, they can also hold us captive. Louis C.K.’s commentary on tweeting says it all (Video link here):

How do you chill?

Related posts: taking some time to get (y)our bearings!
how to do more in less time: pulse and rest
stefan sagemeister on ‘serious failure’ and training the mind
stealth improv: philip besonen’s backyard retreatx


If you’ve found illumination, joy, or inspiration in this post, please consider supporting Improvised Life. It only takes a minute to make a secure donation that helps pay our many costs. A little goes a long way towards helping Improvised Life continue to live ad-free in the world.

Support Improvised Life ♥

4 replies on “vacation (or weekend) mental prep

  1. Watched the first two episodes of Mad Men recently (Meh) and my take away from seeing nearly everyone smoking – smoking everywhere – (IN BED eVen!) was how I feel about the constant smartphone engagements we observe around us on the street, in restaurants, at events – that “When everyone is doing it (something) > there MIGHT be reason to question if it is really healthy (physically – mentally – environmentally and so on)”

    Seeing so many around me wrestle between mobile device and awareness of the space and people around them looks to me today the way seeing a room (or airPlane! or Doctor’s office!) full of people smoking without ceasing.

    Over time, we figure it out, I just hope it happens before Google introduces eyewear with screens in them that respond to finger swiping in mid-air like a Wii!

  2. Good analogy. The other thing they did in the 50’s was drink like crazy: 2 or 3 martini lunches.

    I see it as being behaviors that keep you detached, at least by a step or two, from what’s going on, or what you’re feeling. My two cents.

  3. recently i’ve been given thought to how all of these “screens” affect intimacy – on that note of being detached – is it about balance? awareness? discernment? as usual appears to be more about the questions – what we ask – how we ask – why we ask – gives pause – is rich.

  4. Hi Jody, Interesting questions. For me, screens can do a a couple of things: define a space in all sorts of way that can be changed at the drop of a hat
    AND/OR create a private space for someone that allows them to recharge and hence be ‘available’. What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *