The summer is almost here and you are probably already thinking about your summer vacation. Some people have everything planned already – I haven’t met them but I’ve heard they exist. Taking time off has many obvious benefits: it’s necessary to unwind, relax and refresh both your mind and body.
According to research published in a Journal of Happiness Study, you need at least eight days of holidays to feel refreshed. If you go back to work during this time, you are back to square one. But you don’t need to be in the office to re-enter ‘work mode’. Internet, mobile phones, apps… these all are useful, but they have a downside – they can easily ruin your vacation. In this post, we will guide you through the process of work-proofing your vacation time:
Step 1. Preparation
Create a checklist of all the things you need to complete before you leave the office. Remember: only focus on things YOU absolutely HAVE TO do. Having a checklist will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with an infinite list of tasks to complete. Most of the time, there are many tasks that can wait a week or two ;). Another beneficial aspect is that, when the time comes to finally leave for your vacation, you will have visual and undeniable proof that everything has been completed. You didn’t forget about anything important, provided you remembered to put all the crucial things on your list 😉
Set up a backup plan with your team. Leaving a list of things that need to be covered while you’re gone is also a good idea. Another great tip is to make sure that everyone knows that you will be offline (no emails, no phone, no Slack!)
Next, enable your auto response with instructions on who to contact during your absence (make sure they know you’ve done this 😉 ) and your prep is done!
Step 2. Vacations!
Uninstall slack and your company mailbox.
Stop kidding yourself, you know it always starts the same. You log in for a second JUST to check an email or to check that shitstorm on Slack about dirty mugs in the sink. Then you check another thing, then someone asks you one quick question… and, before you know it, half the day is gone. Uninstall your work apps to be sure you aren’t tempted.
Give your neck some well deserved relief and put your phone away! Smartphones do some serious damage to your spine, while blue light generated by screens may disturb your sleep cycle and scrolling constantly through social media can also damage your social relations. A great cure for this is a gradual detox. Try to limit situations when you have your phone with you. Life without compulsive Facebook checking may seem to be dull but believe me – there are interesting things in the offline world, too.
Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi published a very interesting book about the psychology of Flow. Flow is a state when you do something engaging and get absorbed by the activity to the point that you lose sense of time. This is one of the reasons why active leisure is better than “doing nothing” in front of the TV. You can engage your body and mind in something that you enjoy. This way, your mind unwinds and relaxes, even when tasks are complicated.
Step 3. Back to work
Catch up first
After you’re back in the office, you might feel the urge to get all the updates right away. It will definitely ruin the effect of your vacation. Don’t jump directly into meetings! Start easy; have a coffee with your colleagues and chat. This is way more important than cleaning up your mailbox. There are also some tips how to preserve your vacation spirit once you’re back, too.
The upcoming weekend is a perfect opportunity to test this strategy (at least in Poland – we have a couple of bank holidays coming up). Unplug, relax and have fun!