I’ve often struggled to get away from work when I’m on vacation. I’ve taken conference calls on Thanksgiving Day, on a beach in Hawaii, from a rented house in Mexico, and while watching my godson on a ride at LEGOLAND. A few of those calls I regret. So, in the last couple of years I’ve become a bit of a convert to the joys of really taking a vacation. You know one where you’re actually not working. You’ve scheduled yours, hooray! Here are 5 ways make sure your vacation really counts.
- Intention: Before leaving, spend some time thinking about what your intentions are for the trip and write them down. Vacation means different things to different people. My perfect, relaxing beach vacation could be your snooze fest. So, whether it’s a family vacation or a getaway with friends, it’s important to discuss with everyone what they are looking for on the trip. It’s ideal to do this as far in advance as possible so that everyone’s needs can be taken into consideration when planning. If the trip is already booked, it’s still not too late to discuss what people are hoping to get out of it so that extra fun, adventure or relaxation can be added in.
- To Check in or Not Check In: Decide in advance the degree to which you need to be in touch with work in your absence. This can be especially challenging if you’re in certain technology jobs or any sort of client-facing role. Make sure your team and clients know well in advance what they can expect. Have your out of office message on email and voice mail reflect your plans and include a backup person or people who can support your work in your absence.
- Bat Phone: You may want to consider having one person be the decider on when and if it makes sense to call you. Someone you trust to ONLY call in case of a true work emergency. Discuss in detail with your decider what would qualify.
- Digital Detox: One of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves on vacation is time away from technology. In our 24/7 culture this can be especially difficult. And with cameras on our phones the temptation to toggle over to work email and text is real. Block out some windows of time or even full days during vacation when you are not connected in any way. You can leave the phone behind, or set the phone to airplane mode and use it as a camera only. Give yourself a short timeframe to post the best picture of the day or consider posting pictures from vacation after you get home so as not to get sucked in to the likes and comments from friends, family and colleagues. Like any addiction, this can be hard to stop, but once you start to experience more time away from technology you’ll be glad you did.
- Come Back Early: I love this suggestion from one of my coaching friends, come back a day earlier than you told everyone in the office. Use this day, free of meetings and the expectations of others (they think you’re still on vacation and your out of office message still says that you are) to get caught up on reading email and to plan your first days back so you can focus on what’s really important.