We all deserve a vacation now and then. Work demands and 24×7 connectivity make it challenging to unplug physically and mentally. Here are six tips for enjoying your vacation to the fullest.
Plan ahead: Spontaneous vacations, unless they’re only for a day or two, can wreak havoc on your productivity at work and your ability to enjoy your time off. If you’re planning a week or more away, plan the dates well in advance. Once you’ve committed to a timeframe, start planning well in advance your vacation, not the day before when you’re scrambling to get things done. Think about upcoming deadlines and work you can get a jump-start on so it’s not waiting for you when you return.
2. Inform your colleagues: Are there status meetings or updates that take place on a regular basis, whether you’re there or not? Think about the tasks that will need attention when you’re away. Talk with your team members well in advance of your vacation to determine who might be able to cover those items in your absence and brief them on anything they’ll need to execute successfully. Offer to do the same for a colleague when their vacation rolls around.
3. Create an informative away message: Leaving without creating an away message on your email and voicemail is an invitation for people to contact you. Will you respond to urgent needs? Who can people go to in your absence? Make that clear in your away message.
4. Limit your check in time: Although you’ve left an away message, you’ll still see email traffic. If you feel compelled to read work emails while you are away, set a specific time to do it. Does first thing in the morning work best before the kids are awake or is the end of the day better? Pick a one hour block of time and don’t check your work emails during the day.
5. Designate a second in command: Your pinch hitter can take notes for you at important meetings, handle urgent calls or e-mails if you can’t, and make decisions or answer questions on your behalf. Offer to return the favor when they take time away.
6. Plan enjoyable and new activities: Researchers have found that people are happiest when relaxing, socializing, exercising, doing spiritual activities, and experiencing new adventures. Make time for new and novel activities (have you always wanted to try skydiving?) reading, relaxing, and connecting with the people. Don’t spend all of your time in the kitchen and attending to needs of family members.
If you feel guilty about being away, remind yourself that you will be more productive, creative and happier by taking time off the grid. Happy vacation!