Vacation – Plan Now So You Can Enjoy Later!
Summertime means vacation time. We all remember those days when we were younger and vacation meant truly getting away from it all. As adults, that can seem like a long lost luxury.
In our hectic lives, it is important that we take time to recharge and refresh and that means leaving the office and work behind physically and mentally. There is ample research that shows that people who detach from their jobs have a higher sense of well being, report more life satisfaction, and sleep better.
I remember earlier in my career, vacation felt stressful because I had small children that I wanted to spend some happy summer days with but I also never knew when I would get a phone message that indicated there was some blow up at work. In some ways it felt easier not to go away. I could more easily manage any urgent issues in the office and I didn’t come home to a backlog of emails and problems. I now know how unhealthy and unproductive it was for my family and me to not put adequate boundaries around my vacation time.
We all need and deserve time away to mentally and physically recharge so here are some things you can consider implementing to help establish good boundaries and make vacation time happy and work stress free.
Things to Consider:
- Avoid planning assignment/project deadlines the day before vacation or booking important meetings. There is always a big To-Do list before you leave and you want to have adequate time to leave the office prepared for your time away and some extra time for any last-minute issues that inevitably pop up.
- Make a decision on how much or how little work you want to do while you are away. This is personal choice based on your individual needs including the level of your position and your emotional makeup. You may prefer to check in once a day to make sure there are no surprises when you return. If this is your choice, let coworkers, clients, or your boss know that you will be checking in only once a day and handling issues that you deem too important to wait. Or you may prefer to completely step away while on vacation and ask to be contacted only in a true emergency.
- Talk to your coworkers about your absence and set clear boundaries. Write an email that explains exactly how and when you can be contacted—and when your coworkers, clients, or boss can expect a response. Hold firm to these boundaries and resist letting work issues creep in outside of your set boundaries.
- If it is not already your practice, create customized auto-reply messages for your email and voicemail. No one wants to return to the office with angry emails and voicemails. You also certainly don’t want to be stuck answering your messages the entire time you’re gone. In your out of office messages, be clear about the dates you are away, who they can contact in your absence, and when they can expect to hear back from you when you return.
- While you are away, allow yourself to relax. Try to avoid over scheduling activities, take time for yourself, and savor the moments. Vacations can use boundaries too!
- Rethink about your re-entry plan for when you get back. Returning late on Sunday extends the vacation but makes for a very hectic and potentially unhappy Monday and now all of your good vacation vibes have evaporated. Get back early enough to unpack, restock the refrigerator, sort your personal mail, and organize yourself and your family for the week ahead. Yes, your vacation may be a few hours shorter, but feeling prepared and unhurried will keep the vacation glow alive longer.
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