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Out of Office: How to “Unplug” without guilt, in a 24-Hour industry

With summer in full force, now is the time when most families and young professionals take time out of their hectic schedules to go on vacation and “unplug” so to speak. In an industry like Public Relations where there is a demand for 24-hour attention and constant news monitoring, the concept of unplugging isn’t always the easiest.

I recently returned from a one-week sailing trip around some of the more remote islands in Croatia. In places like Vis and Palmižana, the internet is hard to come by and a print copy of the Wall Street Journal isn’t available for what feels like 100 kilometers. So how does one stay on top of news and still feel like they’ve made the most of a trip?

There are probably many ways, but here is my experience with it.  Hoping to get unplugged without guilt, I did some pre-trip preparations for it.  I made sure to leave a detailed set of instructions for my colleagues along with a brief itinerary.  To avoid international roaming charges, a friend recommended I download WhatsApp so co-workers, clients and reporters alike had a way to reach me when cell service was limited—which very often it was.

When it came to news monitoring, I didn’t want to be tethered to my phone or constantly refreshing my browser, so I downloaded two daily newsletters: TheSkimm, an efficient way to catch up on general news and The Street Sheet, a summary of what is happening in the markets. With that said, I did try to limit myself to only checking emails first thing in the morning and again right before bed. Of course, that never stopped me or any of my traveling companions from immediately asking, “What is the WI-FI password?” the second we got to a restaurant, bar or café. Even when we were lucky enough to find free WI-FI, it was always important to be mindful of the time change. We might have been on island time, but for reporters and clients, a deadline is a deadline.

In the end, if you love the work you’re doing, you won’t even need to unplug. Take advantage of a long uninterrupted flight or a quiet moment with nature, and you just might find the next disruptive idea or a well-crafted pitch letter. Regardless, invest in a portable charger, you’ll have plenty of battery life to take pictures--or more accurately secretly check email-- while out exploring.

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