This week I’m taking a much needed vacation. For me vacation means sun, beach, sand, and hanging with good friends and my family. My entire plan is to lay on the beach, swim in the ocean, and eat delicious food I have not tasted before. There are a few things I will not be doing: worrying, having any cares, checking any emails or working in any capacity.
For me it takes effort to actually pull away from my job and not think about my clients. I’m always thinking, I need to send this email quickly. Maybe if my client tries this configuration it will fix their problem. This clients contract renews next month and they haven’t responded to my emails. I need to schedule a meeting with them. The list in my head can go on and on and on…
On my drive home, I’m thinking of how to solve my clients’ problems. In the shower, I’m thinking of all the things I need to complete. I’m trying to sleep, then I’m sparked with an idea on how to fix something and I write a quick post it note. Post it notes are seriously my best friend and worst enemy! So, I had to create some rules for myself and my sanity. I realized if I did not separate myself from work and actually enjoy my vacation, I would never feel fully rested and energized to put in my full efforts at work when I returned.
Focus on work when I’m there and focus on life when I leave.
Before leaving for vacation, complete a few important tasks:
- Set up a friendly Out of Office Response. When someone emails you, they will know exactly what to expect and when you return. When I’m on vacation, my out of office response lets everyone know I have no access to emails and I will respond to emails when I return. I provide contacts and resources for clients so they can connect with the right person if they need help immediately.
- Wrap up projects before you leave or put projects on hold until you return. If there is a major project in the works, try to schedule your vacation around it. If that is not possible, try to tie up the loose ends as much as possible before you leave. For most of us, our jobs are not life and death. The work can wait 5 – 7 days before it is completed.
Rules to follow when taking a vacation:
Rule 1: Put someone in charge of major projects and clients before you leave.
Sometimes it is impossible to wrap up your projects or all your customer needs before you leave. For major projects, I call or email the client to let them know I will be out office. I give the client a run down of where we are with the project and who to connect with while I’m out of the office. Communicating is key. Make it very clear where the project or issue currently stands and who can help while you are gone. When I return, I catch up with the clients and make sure everything ran smoothly.
Rule 2: Read a book, read a magazine, read anything except your work emails.
Reading your work emails can pull you down a rabbit hole. Did someone respond to this request? Oh this email can be solved with a simple yes or no, I’ll just email this client back, but no one else. It’s easy to get sucked into the mountain of emails. On my out of office responder I say I will not respond to emails until I return and I honestly do not respond to emails until I return to the office. Reading/responding to emails pulls you out of vacation mode and the rest you truly need. I know its hard, but stay clear of your work emails while on vacation.
Rule 3: Keep work calls to a zero or a minimum.
There is no need to call work to check in. Your office should be able to function for a few days without you there. Set boundaries when you are vacation and keep work calls to a minimum. There have been times when my job did need important information from me while I was on vacation and they called me to find out the details. I pointed them in the right direction or I quickly completed the work and carried on with vacation. Once, I took a customer call while I was on vacation, but I desperately wanted to be on the beach with my family. That occurs very very very rarely. These situations helped me realize what measures I needed to take before vacation to ensure everything was in order before I left.
Rule 4: Travel somewhere that makes you feel excited and/or at peace.
Vacation can mean many different things. For me it’s mostly sun and fun on the beach, but I also love visiting new cities and exploring new areas. I like learning something new and trying new foods. One of my favorite vacations was Scotland. I loved seeing Edinburgh castles and how the city was built out of the rocks. I think I actually saw the Loch Ness monster! 🙂 Chose somewhere that sparks joy in your life and gives you the energy to return back to work fully refreshed.
Rule 5: Spend less time viewing screens. Computer screens, cell phone screens, TV screens, etc.
Vacation is a time to do something! If you work at a desk like me, you’re probably always looking at a screen. If it’s not your computer, it’s your cell phone or your TV when you get home. I use my vacation time to go out and try new things. Exploring new shops or checking out the art scenes in a new city are my favorite activities. Even if I just stare out into the sea for an hour. It still beats staring at a computer screen for a while.
Vacations are necessary. Taking time away from work, gives you time to rest and relax physically and emotionally. When I come back from vacation I feel energized and more motivated to work hard and do the job I love. It doesn’t always work out perfectly. Sometimes I have to jump in and get some work done and most of the time I’m relying on my awesome coworkers to step in and take charge while I’m out. I use the five rules above to help me disconnect and focus on myself.