Work free vacations may seem entirely impossible. Especially when you are responsible for so much at your job. The idea of putting away your phone to not check email may seem daunting. Knowing how to wrap up your work responsibilities is the only way to have a work-free vacation.
Stop seeing ourselves as work martyrs
We are a generation that will not stop working. We avoid taking vacations because you’re afraid that no one will be able to do your work. 40% of Americans don’t take their vacations because they fear these outcomes. While 26% of Canadians are using their paid vacation.
Don’t dread the pile-up. Or think that there’s too much work to leave. Work will always be there.
Before you go away, you should diligently plan ahead. In your notebook or calendar, write down all the items you need to tackle before you leave, so you can leave for vacation in peace-of-mind. Sometimes you have to give yourself credit, think about all your hard work. See yourself as worthy of a vacation.
Wrap up unfinished work
Especially the small stuff. I think when they’re are a lot of small tasks turn into a lot of things to do. Like you know when you need to organize files. Or you need to respond to emails. They are small and easy to complete but they pile up. Get it done before you leave so you get that feeling of accomplishment. Taking care of the small stuff can make a big difference.
Meet with your manager to hand off any work that is ongoing while you’re away
Schedule a meeting with your manager. You can grab a coffee together, meet at your desk or meet in a meeting room. Then provide your manager with a project status update. You should review every detail of your projects and important information with them, so they can troubleshoot issues when you are away. This way your work free vacation can never be interrupted by your duties of your job.
Write an out office email – automatic replies
So here’s what you should do. On your last day, while you clean up, write your out of office message. You can start with thanking the sender for their email. Tell them the date you leave, the date you return and who will help them when while you are gone.
A website I came across had a unique idea for out of office emails. Ask questions at the end of your email. It keeps things light and friendly. For instance, is there anything you’d like to discuss at our next meeting? Are there any interesting books you’ve read lately? It’s not typical to see an email with these questions. I think it keeps things interesting. After you’ve wrapped up for the day, turn off all email notifications on your phone. You want your work to be out of sight out of mind while you’re on vacay. But don’t forget to turn them on when you return. Maybe put a reminder in your phone
Start your vacation the minute you arrive at the airport
Once you’ve survived check-in and security checkpoint, you can let your work free vacation begin! Get settled at the gate. Turn off notifications on your phone. Grab something warm to drink get comfy in the airport seat. Put feet up and get into people watching mode. Isn’t so much fun to people? You wonder where people are going. You make up stories in your head as to why they’re traveling to. Could they be going somewhere luxurious? I seriously enjoy doing this. I like watching families and couples. They always have a look of excitement and anticipation on their faces and it gets me excited for my trip too. Anyway, get in the vacation spirit and people watch!
Do something you wouldn’t normally do
On your work free vacation, be adventurous and spontaneous. These make the greatest memories and experiences. They give you stories to tell. Why would you want to look at your email when you’re having so much fun? Work will only feel like an interruption at this point. I remember when I decided to try snorkeling for the first time. It was thrilling and scary but the only reason I reached for my phone was to take pictures.
Work Free Vacation is about letting go
When we work during vacation we can have “Continuous Partial Attention”. You’re partially paying attention to what’s going on around you while trying to respond to or read an email at the same time. I’m guilty of this too. Not just with email, but browsing social media while at an event or gather. Be present on your vacation. You need to reassure yourself that you’ve left your work in capable hands. The person you’ve left in charge will take care of any issues that arise. You’ve given them the tools and resources they need to solve the problems. Let the voice in your head remind you that thing will be fine without you. So loosen up vacations only happen a few times a year.
Remember this is your me time
You spend so much of you time on work, give yourself one week to focus on yourself being refreshed by your vacation. You’ll be going back to work anyway, so relax, your body, mind, and soul need it. You can return to work completely rejuvenated.
Having a work-free vacation is attainable. Before you start your vacation take care of work before you leave. This way you’re not tempted to look at your phone for emails or think about work. You can enjoy time with family or friends. Your attention will not be divided. You can return to work refreshed, ready to create and be productive again.