Whether You Take a Vacation or Not, You Need to Unplug Even a short tech sabbatical can change the way you approach your business.

By Tonya Lanthier

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Did you get to take a vacation this summer? For nine days, I relaxed in Italy and Greece. It was a pure pleasure vacation, a rarity for many individuals and definitely for small-business owners.

As an American traveling abroad it made clear what we've always suspected: we consistently take less time off than our European counterparts. When we do manage to build in a few days off, the challenge then becomes, how do you unplug? For small-business owners this is an even more daunting task.

A recent survey found that half of small-business owners (48 percent) miss summer vacations due to a fear of unplugging. This same survey also revealed that even when these entrepreneurs do take a vacation, 45 percent find it hard to relax because they constantly think about how their businesses are doing.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Disconnecting for 24 Hours Each Week Is Crucial

So how did I disconnect? First of all, I made the trip a priority given what it took to get there: it was the first vacation I took since college that was truly "my own." For the first time as a working adult I realized I had both time and the means to make it happen. Simply acknowledging this put me in the mindset that I could afford to take time off from work for more than just a few days.

Second, and entirely more practical, I found myself keeping my device in the "off" position simply to avoid exorbitant roaming charges. As a working mother, however, the voice in my head saying "what if my girls try to contact me and I miss it!" kept me from being as off the grid as I would have liked (even though I knew that they were perfectly fine and well cared for). Regardless, this was as close to a technology sabbatical as I've ever experienced.

I sense I am not alone in the feeling that we may be hitting a digital overload. Seeing my own twin daughters start to become lost in technology leaves me with an uneasy feeling. There is no denying it: our children are part of the iGeneration. While I support using the technology that can make our lives more productive, and even built my company based on developments in matching algorithms and mobile innovations, we need to find better ways to manage our relationship with this constant onslaught of information.

Human interaction is still vital for healthy relationships both in the home and the workplace. At home we put technology away for dinner and try to put them away at restaurants, but the temptation to simply ask Siri a nagging question can come up while we're sitting around the table.

Related: How to Unplug and Return to the Grind Recharged

It's worth holding some of the same standards you might enforce with friends and family when managing employees: When is it time to tuck away your devices to truly focus on the task at hand? During the work day we're bombarded by a series of alerts across multiple devices. The distractions can be overwhelming -- wasting time, energy and attention on often entirely unnecessary interactions ("time to log your lunch!" or "remember to stand up!").

A recent report from research firm Information Overload Group found that U.S. workers waste as much as 25 percent of their time due to technology distractions at a cost of billions of dollars annually. Aside from the massive loss of productivity there is the very real phenomenon of technology addiction. It's worth taking the time to think about at what level the way you interact with your device goes from an amazing way to stay efficient and creative to simply a compulsive behavior.

Looking back on my recent travels, I experienced to some extent what could be called a "digital detox" even if only partially. I returned with a heightened awareness of when my technology was bringing me closer to the tasks at hand, and when it was simply a distraction.

Although I didn't manage to unplug 100 percent, it was a great time to reflect on how I will chose to use technology to its greatest extent going forward both as an entrepreneur, a parent and within my time as dental professional working with patients. Speaking of, do you know how hard it is to treat a patient with a phone stuck to his or her face?

Related: 5 Antidotes for Chronic Digital Distraction

Wavy Line
Tonya Lanthier

CEO of DentalPost

Tonya Lanthier is the CEO of DentalPost, a dental industry online jobs site.

Editor's Pick

A Father Decided to Change When He Was in Prison on His Son's Birthday. Now His Nonprofit Helps Formerly Incarcerated Applicants Land 6-Figure Jobs.
A Teen Turned His Roblox Side Hustle Into a Multimillion-Dollar Company — Now He's Working With Karlie Kloss and Elton John
3 Mundane Tasks You Should Automate to Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff
The Next Time Someone Intimidates You, Here's What You Should Do
5 Ways to Manage Your Mental Health and Regulate Your Nervous System for Sustainable Success

Related Topics

Business News

'I Am Just Floored': Woman Discovers She Won $1 Million Lottery Prize While Checking Her Email at Work

Initially, she thought the email was a scam, but went to lottery headquarters and walked away with a six-figure check after taxes.

Business News

South Park Creators Spent 'Infinity Dollars' Renovating Iconic Colorado Restaurant, Set to Reopen Soon

Casa Bonita, a long-time favorite of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, went bankrupt during the pandemic. The duo purchased and painstakingly renovated the Mexican spot "like a piece of art," Stone said.

Business News

'I've Got the Bug for Business': See All of Mark Wahlberg's Entrepreneurial Endeavors, From Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch to Wahlburgers

Mark Wahlberg owns businesses in several categories, including entertainment production, apparel, fitness, and nutrition.


'Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch' Is Back Open for Business!

Check out this preview of season nine of our hit show "Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch." Big ideas and big money are on the line!

Business News

'I'm Not a Very Good Businessman': Kevin Costner Is Risking a Ton of His Own Money on New Project

The "Yellowstone" star discussed how he bankrolled his new epic movies — and his accountant isn't happy.