If you want great downtime, be clear with yourself and others about how you want to spend your time and how you want to feel. And always leave your smartphone behind, writes Remy Blumenfeld

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Whatever your plans and commitment for the long labor day weekend, there are some great ways to transform your downtime into a vacation state of mind. We all imagine that by retreating to a hilltop villa or a beach resort we’ll escape our daily routines, reconnect and unwind.  So, why don’t we?

Being a billionaire won’t help either. It seems the further we travel, the more money we spend, and the longer we’re away, the higher our expectations and the greater our sense of disappointment.

The obstacles to getting away from it all are mostly of our own making. In the first place, we tend to sneakily pack our bags full of expectations, which we fail to declare or meet. Then, in this hyper-connected digital age, we play to all our neuroses and dysfunctions by importing our work lives and social networks on our smartphones.

Here are three ways I’ve found you can make the long weekend, or any downtime, a whole lot more fulfilling – and you don’t need to spend more money or travel any further than your back yard.

1. Set your intentions for your time away from work

This is as important if you’re spending the weekend alone as it is if you’re vacationing in a group. Be very clear about what it is you want from your time, both in terms of what you want to do and how you want it to feel. In other words, be honest with yourself and others. Perhaps you want to go sailing, experiment with a new diet, read a novel or practice yoga?  There’s still time.  Declare it.  And how would you like to feel when your weekend is over? More connected with your family, more in-tune with your partner, more relaxed in yourself, re-energized in your body? Great. Let them know.

If your partner wants an active weekend when you’re hoping for a restful one, both your needs can be met if you’re clear about them upfront.  Even when you do make yourself abundantly clear, your needs can easily get derailed by other peoples’ demands. But, when you keep your wishes secret, there is little chance of them ever being fulfilled.

2. Don’t take your office with you

It sounds so obvious. In pre-digital days, no one would dream of packing the word processor, fax machine, filing cabinets, and office phone with them on a trip to St Barths. But these days, we all do it, because all of these functions and many more besides, are packed into our phones. How can you possibly disconnect and unwind with all of that work noise happening on your handset?

I get that you need to be contactable, in case your mom breaks a hip or your CEO has a heart attack, so I advise clients to buy the cheapest phone you can, put your SIM card in it and let anyone who needs to know that in an emergency they can dial your number.  At the very least, this weekend, forward calls to a landline and switch your ‘phone to airplane mode.

3. Leave all social media behind

Managing Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat when you’re on vacation plays on all your insecurities and neuroses, leaving you feeling frayed. Turn your focus on your surroundings and yourself, or the people you’ve chosen to be with.  If you feel compelled to take pictures, by all means, pack a digital camera and snap away. You can post them later.  Posing for and posting images will distract you, and stop you savoring the long weekend.

Finally, there is no surer way to darken the mood of your downtime than by consuming movies and novels which are depressing. Instead, choose music, films, and books that are joyous and enriching. There is even music you can listen to without wifi or internet connection.

Emjoy!

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