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Anyone who e-mailed me in the last ten days received the following out-of-office message:

“I am on vacation and have unplugged completely. I have no access to this e-mail account or technology and accordingly cannot respond at this time.  I will be back in the office on April 25th.  I look forward to telling you all about it when I get back.”

Unplugging is a big deal for me. I can’t say with precision how long I am on-line everyday but for the past five years I have only been off-line for no more than 3 or 4 days total per year.

I went to Panama for my vacation. My husband and I made a commitment to spend time together and not to be distracted by anything at the office.  Once I was aboard the plane, I was able to exhibit some self-control and I turned off my Blackberry and put it away to avoid the potentially enormous roaming charges.

Throughout the week, I was tempted a few times to turn it back on and attempt to manage my in-box, noting the enormous amount of e-mail that normally accumulates, but stopped myself. After all, very little of what I do is actually urgent and I reminded myself that I am not indispensable.

Yet still, matters unresolved at work were on my mind throughout the trip.  In that way, my attempt to unplug was unsuccessful.  Sadly, I seem to have a very difficult time turning off my job (and I have to wonder if this is just me, or the profession).  I actually woke up one morning with an uneasy feeling that I had forgotten to do something important. Rather than break radio silence, however, I decided to buy Sherri Rossi a pre-emptive “I’m sorry” gift.

Panama is a beautiful country. I will avoid providing a travelogue except to say our resort was great and I spent most days staring at big ships. Panama is more than a transport hub and, from an on-line perspective, it is quite connected. Most of the billboards and advertisements included Facebook and Twitter accounts.  This did not help me in my quest to stay off-line, although I did it.  I even hand-wrote this blog on the airplane ride back!

Ultimately I think the one positive thing that came from my unplugged experience was that I got to experience Panama without that distraction of the red blinking light.  Panama is a country of great prosperity and poverty and lacks economic diversity.  They need more industry and more human resources experience.  If you are ever looking for someone to be involved in commerce there, give me a call.  I would definitely go back.

And now on to those 500+ e-mails!


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