I just came back from vacation – my first in five years to be exact (don’t ask, it’s a long story involving companies closing and new jobs). It was truly one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken, and it wasn’t just because it’s been so long – it was because I was completely focused on enjoying my time away, without worrying about what was happening at the office.
Recent studies reveal that only 25 percent of people use their paid vacation time, and a whopping 61 percent of those who take vacation do at least some work. That’s ridiculous! Vacation time is important for our mental, emotional and physical health.
I love my job, and I work hard, as I’m sure all of you do. But, it’s not healthy or productive to work 100 percent of the time. Having time to enjoy myself without the stress of worrying whether or not someone will reply to that email or if my coworker knows the answer to that question makes me a better employee, a better representative for my clients and a much happier person in general.
So, if you’re wondering how to get started disconnecting during your summer vacation, here are some of the things I did:
Plan it at a slow time. Because I work with many clients, I didn’t want to take my vacation at an especially busy time. So, I opted to plan my vacation around Memorial Day when most companies and reporters are pretty disconnected. It made my ability to disengage a little easier knowing most people would be checked out for the unofficial start of summer.
Put in a little extra work beforehand. I worked a few extra hours to ensure that all current work would be wrapped up and no one would have to jump into a project midstream. It made me a little insane trying to get ready for vacation, all while working longer hours, but in the end it was worth it.
Tell your clients. They’re human, too, and most understand the importance of vacation time. Let them know you’ll be gone, but that all work will be handled by a teammate – we don’t want them thinking no one will be paying attention to them, do we? My clients were all great about me taking vacation (because my clients are the best!), even if they did joke about not letting me go!
Create a “While I’m Gone” document. We’re in PR; nothing’s ever truly wrapped up, is it? Trying to stay one step ahead of the game, I created a document listing all of my clients and their current, or recently finalized projects. I met with my team members to discuss what was happening and where everything stood. There were a few items that popped up in my absence, but my teams (shout out their fabulousness!) were able to handle these instances without needing my input.
Disconnect. In order to disconnect, you have to disconnect! Sounds silly, right? Wrong. Ask your coworkers only to CC you on emails you’ll need when you come back. Turn off the emails on your phone – it’s easy to say, “I’ll just respond to this one,” but if they’re not coming at all, you can enjoy yourself. If necessary, put your phone on airplane mode. For example, it was my birthday while on vacation, and I knew a bunch of texts and Facebook notifications would pop through that day. So, I put my phone on airplane mode – that tiny button saved my battery, but didn’t kill the well wishes that would later come through!
While in San Diego (you were wondering the whole time, weren’t you?), I was able to relax, refresh and recharge. Now I’m off to plan my next disconnected vacation! How about you? Have any tips for going work-free on vacation?