THUNDER BAY – Special to NNL – Wow. I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to do it, but I did! I actually survived an entire week without the Internet. It was tough at times, but I wanted to see if it could be done — and I’m living proof that with some careful planning and a little bit of patience, you too can be successful for seven full days without the Web!
My family and I just finished a week’s vacation in Aruba, and I managed to go from Saturday to Saturday with zero access to my beloved Interwebs. With the exception of the iPad (for which I and my wife owe a solemn debt of gratitude to Steve Jobs because it was the only way to get our 2-year-old son to sit still for extended periods of time when we weren’t playing with him directly) we didn’t even use any gadgets. No iPhones. No laptops. It was amazing to experience the world as it must have been like 20 years ago!
Amazingly, I went seven full days without reading any of my favorite blogs. I didn’t peruse one single piece of content related the advertising business either, and the only news content I had came from a printed New York Times sheet distributed at the front desk of the resort. It was refreshing to find other outlets for my time rather than sitting in front of a small, backlit keyboard and a luminous screen (as I am doing here at 5:30 a.m.).
There were so many other things to do with my time! I went for walks, engaged in happy banter with the family, and spent hours cuddled up with my son, a book, some fruit and a smile on my face. It was refreshing to have few cares and ample time in the day to just sit back, relax and be a human being!
Of course, there were some awkward moments, too. For example, I found myself looking for something to do in those fractured moments when I was alone at the dinner table for 120 seconds, while my wife would take my son to the bathroom. Those times are usually reserved for errant glances towards my phone and the ubiquitous deluge of email messages. Come to think of it, it was strange to look around the restaurant and not see at least 50% of the people at the tables looking down, gazing longingly into the semi-bright halo of light that typically emanates from inside their cupped hands. People were actually looking at one another, engaging in the moment, and enjoying the presence of real flesh-and-blood people. It was truly eye-opening!
All that being said, it is nice to come back to the “real world,” as my wife put it when we were in the taxi. One thing I learned from being away is that I want to maintain some of the learning I acquired while away on vacation. I want to take some of that “vacation-spirit” with me back into the real world. Just in case you haven’t been on vacation lately, maybe these suggestions will help you feel a little more peace during your otherwise hectic and fast-paced days:
Try to remember that not every waking second has to be “productive,” because the simple fact is that filling every waking second with glances at email are not productive. They’re distracting.
1. Be where you are, when you’re there. The people you’re talking to, and the places where you are right now are important, so don’t discount them by thinking of other places and other people, or engaging in conversation with other people in other places. Be here. Now.
2. Those two nuggets of wisdom are ones that I feel are important, because when you’re present, focused and calm, you are actually far more productive than when you’re scattered, distracted or unfocused. The best executives in the world take vacations, and they also make you feel important when you’re with them. That works equally well when you’re with family. You never want to hear your son say “Daddy – what’s going on in your email?” You would rather hear him say “Daddy – want to play catch?”
So even though it’s back to work, a little vacation spirit and the legacy of my week without the Internet will live on for as long as I can allow it. I hope you’re able to get away — and if not, then at least let your mind get away a little. It will do wonders for your attitude.
As a senior executive with i-Traffic, Freestyle Interactive, Real Branding and Carat Interactive/ Carat Fusion, Cory Treffiletti has helped launch and develop a number of successful interactive agencies. He’s also a serial entrepreneur and business owner, having launched new marketing efforts for IUMA (formerly a division of eMusic) and Sharkle (a division of ViTrue). And he’s served some of the world’s top brands, including BMW, Kodak, Western Union, Warner Bros., and Electronic Arts.
Cory also channels his restless energy into frequent speaking engagements at agency and publisher summits and conferences. He authors a weekly (Wednesday) column for Mediapost. And he blogs regularly at www.treffiletti.com.