It is officially summertime. The good news is that vacation season is upon us. The bad news is it can be really hard to fully disconnect and engage in a true vacation these days. One tap on a mobile phone and you’re checking email. A click of a button and notifications alert us with an update from one of many social media platforms. Truth is, it can be hard to be fully present in anything these days, especially vacation. Sure you can go away physically, but what about the mental and emotional parts of you? The fear of returning from a vacation behind on your work and having to spend nights and weekends catching up can make a sunny day seem a little gloomier.
Vacation is important. Rest and relaxation is good for the soul, and even positively affect your productivity. Taking time to disconnect from “it all” and reconnect to yourself, your hobbies, your dreams can be very beneficial and rejuvenating.
"Disconnecting from our technology to reconnect with ourselves is absolutely essential for wisdom." -- Arianna Huffington
Spending uninterrupted time with family, out in nature or simply by yourself has the potential to re-inspire you. Vacation gives you the opportunity to reflect on why you’re working so hard and for such long hours. Maybe so you can provide for your family or to be the best you can be. Your hopes and dreams are the foundation of those reasons, so it is important to take care of you during your time away from the office.
“I didn’t want to be alone. I just wanted to be free of obligations, most of which asserted themselves digitally” says Baratunde Thurston in his article #Unplug: Baratunde Thurston Left The Internet For 25 Days, And You Should, Too. If you have a vacation planned soon and you’re about to take time away from work, here are three things to consider before heading out that will help you enjoy your time away unplugged and with the peace of mind you desire, just as intended.
1. Before you leave.
Discuss your MITs (Most Important Things) that need to be done before you leave. Clarifying what absolutely needs to be done before you leave for vacation will make it easier to leave. Write your priorities down and mark them off as you complete them, this way you are visually watching your to-do list shrink while your confidence in leaving is growing as your mind is becoming clearer and freed from the impending list of things to do. Take care of the essentials so you don’t have to give any mind to them while you are away.
Bonus tip: Ask for help. Consider implementing a morning “stand-up” meeting with some of your coworkers the three to five days before you leave. Each morning, identify the one priority you have for that day, and ask for any help they may be able to give you. You want to complete as much as possible before you leave the office.
2. While you're on vacation.
Agree on your MITs (Most Important Things) for the time you’re on vacation. Be willing to define what is most important during your vacation. It may be one simple thing or it may be a few things. Regardless, keep them at the forefront of your mind. Write them down if you need to. Put them on a sticky note to stick on your mirror while you are gone as a daily reminder of what is truly important to you while you are away. If you need to check into work at least once, give yourself the grace to check in. Not all vacations are the relaxing and peaceful kind, but find time in each day to refresh your mind with what is most important to you during your time away.
3. Catch up days.
Schedule two afternoon “catch-up days” for the week after you return. After being away for an extended period of time, it can be very overwhelming to get back into the swing of things at work. Feeling buried under papers or drowning in emails, it can seem hopeless and stressful coming back. To avoid feeling like you will never recover, schedule a at least two afternoons that you can dedicate to catching up. As Muhammad Ali said, “It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.” Make the time to get the pebbles out of your shoes by getting caught up on what you missed so you will be ready and available to stay on top of what is current and in need of your attention now.
By taking the time to consider these three things before you leave for vacation you will not only have a peace of mind while you’re away from the office, but you will fully be able to engage in your time away. Prepare for your vacation at work, just as much as you prepare for vacation at home. Make the list and tackle your to-do’s one at a time. Vacation you will thank you.