Some things I've decided to do to improve my breaks and vacations
About a year ago I wrote about my email mistake of mingling personal and work email together and how it made taking breaks from work rather harder. It may not surprise you to hear that I have done nothing to remedy that situation since then. Splitting out email is a slog and I'm probably never going to get around to it. However, there are a couple of cheap tricks that I've decided to do for breaks and vacations (in fact I decided on them last year, but never got around to either writing about them or properly implementing them).
There are a number of public mailing lists for things like Exim and OmniOS that I participate in. I broadly like reading them, learning from them, and perhaps even helping people on them, but at the same time they're not software that I've got a deep personal interest in; I'm primarily on those mailing lists because we use all of these things at work. What I've found in the past is that these mailing lists feed me a constant drip of email traffic that I'm just not that interested in during breaks; after a while it becomes an annoyance to slog through. So now I am going to procmail away all of the traffic from those mailing lists for the duration of any break. Maybe I'll miss the opportunity to help someone, but it's worth it to stop distracting myself. All of that stuff can wait until I'm back in the office.
(I may also do this for some mailing lists for software I use personally. For example, I'm not sure that I need to be keeping up on the latest mail about my RAW processor if I'm trying to take a break from things.)
The other cheap trick is simple. I have a
full of various scripts I use to monitor and check in on things
about our systems, and one of my fidgets is to run some of them
just because. So I'm going to make that directory inaccessible when
I'm taking a break by just doing '
chmod 055 $HOME/adm' (055 so
that my co-workers can keep using these scripts if they want to).
This isn't exactly a big obstacle I've put in my way; I can un-chmod
the directory if I want to. But it's enough of a roadblock to
hopefully break my habit of reflexively checking things, which is
both a distraction and a temptation to get pulled into looking more
deeply at anything I spot.
It's going to feel oddly quiet and empty to not have these email messages coming in and these fidgets around, but I think it's going to be good for me. If nothing else, it's going to be different and that's not a bad thing.
(Completely disconnecting from work would be ideal but it's not possible while my email remains entangled and, as mentioned, I still don't feel energetic enough to tackle everything involved in starting to fix that.)