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Disconnecting Work From Your Mobile Phone

Right now, I’m on vacation. Not because I necessarily want to be, but because I will lose the vacation time if I don’t.

When you work in a normal office setting, disconnecting from work is relatively easy. You don’t go into work. If you have a work mobile phone, you don’t answer it. Pretty straightforward.

Not so for me. I don’t go into a normal office. I work at home. I don’t have a non-work mobile phone (and haven’t for years). Friends I work with call me. My “work” and “personal” life doesn’t always have a clear delineation. I read both corporate and personal email on my mobile phone. Heck, I even tweet personal and corporate from my mobile phone!

So how do you disconnect from work while still being personally reachable? It’s relatively easy to not use my work laptop to check work email. However, the mobile phone requires a little bit of surgery to temporarily remove “work” from it.

The voice part is pretty simple. When the phone does ring, unless it’s a number I recognize, I let voicemail take care of it. I don’t get a lot of voice calls anyway (I can go days without receiving one), so I’m ok with this filtering method.

Email is slightly trickier. The challenge is that completely disconnecting from the Exchange server means that, when you reconnect, your phone contacts may be out of sync. You’ll end up with a lot of duplicates, creating a whole bunch of extra work.

Fortunately, the iPhone and Nokia’s Mail for Exchange both have ways to selectively remain connected to the Exchange server without requiring you to get email. On the iPhone, go to Setti ngs > Mail, Contacts, Calendar > Your Profile. You’ll get a screen like this:

ActiveSync Settings iPhone

Obviously, I took the screenshot after I disabled Mail and Calendar–the two largest potential sources of work-related annoyances. However, I’m still syncing contacts so that my contacts are backed up and not out of sync :)

Nokia offers a similar option in Mail for Exchange, but it requires editing several screens. In the Mail for Exchange app, select Options > Edit Profile. Go to Calendar, Tasks and Email and set the “Synchronize” option to No for each. When you back out, the device will re-sync. Email will be deleted from the device, however your Calendar and Tasks will not and, unless you manually delete them, they will continue to nag you.

One thing I discovered on the current firmware version of the Nokia E71 is that Nokia stupidly removed the “Delete All” option from the Calendar app. This means I have to manually delete all my Calendar appointments. The “Delete Before Date” option that now exists does not seem to work at all for recurring appointments, meaning I have to delete everything by hand. Way to take a step back on usability, there, Nokia!

The last thing I had to do was remove the corporate Twitter account from my various mobile Twitter apps. It’s easy enough to add back in later and I’d rather not accidentally send out a tweet on the corporate Twitter account :)

And now I can safely say my mobile phones are disconnected from work. I can reconnect it if needed, but I have no desire to right now. I’m on vacation, after all :)

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