Summertime, and the living is easy. Or at least it used to be. George Gershwin can probably consider himself lucky to have lived his life well before the smartphone era, when for many of us vacation can end up meaning juggling family and work – and considerably more stress than either of those things can cause on their own.
I don’t mind admitting I am a fan of switching off. I can’t pretend I won’t keep one eye on the world of work, but as a rule, my intention is to keep it at arm’s length. Aside from anything else, I am a firm believer that we’re all more productive for taking time out and broadening our horizons. Certainly, in the world of marketing, there’s a strong argument that you learn more from a good novel than yet another business tome, or worse again an endless email thread about some technical triviality.
That’s why my personal policy is to take control of my technology, and in extreme circumstances, put physical distance between myself and it. I try to keep my laptop in the overhead bin on the plane, and my smartphone in a kitchen or desk draw for at least part of the day.
That isn’t always easy. In its role as the ‘personal digital assistant,’ the smartphone is a fantastic vacation partner. It takes photos, gives us directions, and helps us find a great place to eat when we’re off the tourist trail. So we tend to carry it around with us. If that sounds like you, try turning off your notifications for email, messaging, push and so on. It is remarkable how Pavlovian our response to those beeps and vibrations can be – so don’t take the risk!
Now the case for the defense. I can’t be the only one who prefers to have advance warning of any triumphs or disasters before walking back through the office door. There’s no mistaking the benefits of having the smartphone on hand during a week or fortnight away. It means I can have a decent grasp of the big picture, even if I don’t want the full detail. You could argue that I want to have things both ways, but my attitude probably reveals something interesting about the smartphone generation: we want engagement on our own terms and we prefer to pick and choose when it happens.
We can’t always pick and choose, of course. Some things demand our attention no matter what. But it certainly helps to be aggressive with the filtering process when away from home and trying to spend time with the family (assuming, that is, that you enjoy their company).
Our fellow employees can help in that regard too, and indeed so can the brands and businesses who are lucky enough to be on my phone and from which I am happy to receive native mobile advertising and push notifications. If it’s useful to me right now – like an offer on roaming or FX, then fire away. But try not to interrupt me to tell me about an in-store sale currently 1,000 miles away. You know where I am – please use that information!
Of course, all this relative isolation does mean a mountain of work when returning to base. I’ll be back with advice on that topic right after this cocktail from the pool bar. I promise.
Tom Farrell is the VP of Marketing at Swrve. Tom has over 20 years experience in consumer marketing, both with some of the world’s leading brands and in the tech ecosystem that supports them. Tom has been involved in mobile marketing for over six years and has worked with major app businesses to deliver successful campaigns and experiences on mobile.