Vacation should be a break from the hectic day-to-day work grind, but we often find it hard to push schedules, deadlines, and ongoing projects out of our minds. As the Fourth of July weekend approaches, consider taking a little extra time for family, sunshine, and relaxation.
To make the most out of your vacation, the best thing you can do is prepare. While it might seem counter-intuitive, failing to prepare effectively for your time off can easily sabotage your break and leave you more stressed than when you left.
Before you leave, do these six things to prepare for your vacation so you can actually unplug and get the rest you need.
1. Minimize Your Outstanding Project List
Before you go out of office, create a plan for tackling outstanding tasks before you go. Don’t overwhelm yourself, be realistic about what needs to get done and what can wait for your return.Try not to start new projects before you leave. Instead, use your time wrapping up projects currently on your plate.
2. Let Clients or Customers Know
Have a particularly chatty client? Or maybe someone prone to ‘emergencies’, let them know before you leave when you’ll be gone and give them a way to contact someone in the office in your absence.
3. Clean and Organize your Email Inbox
Use the sorting method best for you, but don’t leave any messages unanswered or floating around in folders. Craft your out of office message and voicemail to let people know when you will be out and when they can expect you back.
4. Set up Email Inboxes or Priority Tags
When you get back to work, you’re going to have a mountain of emails to sort through. Prioritize the important senders with tags to make it easier to get to the important stuff as quickly as possible.
5. Prepare a Return Agenda
Make a detailed list of your progress in projects, the people you need to get in touch with and what is still on your to-do list. Even though you’re probably not going to forget, it’s nice to have a detailed plan for when you get back.
6. Tidy your Personal Space
Coming back to an organized atmosphere makes managing the first day back just a little easier. Do yourself a favor and set up a distraction-free environment to transition back into work-mode with little difficulty.
While You’re Away
How you handle work while you’re away from the office is just as important as preparing before you go. Don’t stress yourself by staying up to date with small issues. There’s not much you can do anyway, and this time is for you to relax and spend time with your family.
1. Make your Boundaries Clear
When you’re gone, stay gone. Let your team know when, if it all, you’ll be checking in. The moment you answer an email, you set the standard that although you’re on vacation, you’re available.
2. Trust Your People
Small business owners have an especially difficult time with this. But remember, you put people in place for a reason. Time off is your chance to let go and trust your team. If you can’t take a vacation without the whole organization crumbling down, you have more serious problems to deal with. Trust and empower your employees, equip them with the tools they need and get some rest!
3. Turn off Notifications
I know this is a hard one, but it’s the most important. Take a deep breath and turn off email, calendar or any work-related alerts on your phone. It’s less tempting to jump online and do some work if you just stay out of it all together. Turn notifications off and spend that time fully focused on your family. That’s what this time is about, isn’t it?
If you know you really can’t resist the temptation of answering a few emails or checking in, put check-in times in place. One or two times during your time away, schedule thirty minutes to an hour to catch up on emails and see how the team is doing. After the designated time, power down and enjoy your vacation without the fear of the unknown hanging over your head.
Vacation time is part of the work-life balance for a reason – you’re a better worker when you’ve had some time away to recharge and reset. You’re not doing yourself, your team or your loved ones any favors by stressing about work on your time off.
Your family deserves the same level of attention you give work. Especially when you carve out time to take a distraction free vacation. This fourth of July, take some real time off and be with family and friends. You deserve a break, and you’ve earned it.
Happy Independence Day!