In a recent study, American workers left nearly 768 million days of unused vacation days on the table. This is up 9% from 2017. Many business professionals in the United States feel overworked and overwhelmed, opting to forgo their allotted vacation days for fear of falling behind. Opting to forgo allotted vacation days can have serious ramifications on an individuals mental and physical health and well-being.
However, an even greater issue that persists is the inability to disconnect from the office once on vacation. A majority of office workers have admitted to checking in on work emails and messages while on vacation. Learning how to disconnect from work and enjoy your vacation is not only necessary, it is crucial to your own success in the workplace.
Even if you are incredibly busy, there are ways you can find the time to go on holiday, relax and enjoy your time away from the stresses of work.
Below, we go through a list of tips and tricks for unplugging from your work emails and messages. Learning how to enjoy your vacation will help you to clear your mind and get back to work refreshed and ready to go. While seemingly difficult, fully unplugging and disconnecting from work while on vacation will prove beneficial in the long-term.
Complete as Much as You Can Before You Leave
On average, an office employee receives nearly 121 emails per day. This influx of emails proves difficult to sift through after an extended time away from the office. It is, therefore, paramount that you complete and take care of any loose ends and old emails before setting sail.
Be sure to go through all the emails in your inbox and address any outstanding issue, questions, or requests. Doing so will help you to avoid panic filled messages when you return and will help you to set expectations while you are on vacation.
Set a Complete and Comprehensive OOO Message
Your out-of-office (OOO) message is crucial, not just for letting people know you’re out of the office, but also what they should do with any urgent requests. Be sure to include the days you are away and a list of contacts the sender can liaise with in your absence.
Lastly, be sure to include a quick note that you will be unable to check-in on emails or messages during the time you are out of the office. This subtle reminder will help to set the precedent that your vacation time is your time off and away from the office.
Discuss Any Crucial Items with Your Manager
Before hopping on your flight or sailing off into the sunset, be sure to discuss any crucial and high priority items with your manager. You should provide them with a list of those items, as well as a current status. This will help your manager to better handle any emergency situations without needing to call or bother you.
Discuss What Entails an Emergency with Your Manager
Let’s face it, sometimes emergencies still happen. And while you should try to avoid disturbances while you are on vacation, it is not always possible. To avoid any confusion, discuss with your manager and your team what truly entails an emergency. That way, all parties understand when to, and when not to, reach out to you while you are away.
Designate a Person of Contact
Another great suggestion is to delegate and designate a person of contact in the office. This individual should be knowledgeable and responsible for your tasks and responsibilities while you are out of the office. And although they may not have as full an understanding as you, they should be able to handle any basic and simple questions or requests.
Leave Your Laptop at Home
Although many business professionals receive their emails and messages on their personal phones, the majority of communications and work tasks are still completed on a dedicated desktop or laptop. If you have a work laptop, the best way to avoid checking in on work emails and messages is to simply leave it at home. While easier said than done, you’ll definitely thank yourself for not bringing it and enjoying your vacation.
Set a Dedicated Time for Work
For many business professionals, not checking in on work is simply not a possibility. So, rather than completely disconnecting, set a dedicated time each day to review work emails and messages. This can be first thing in the morning or last thing before going to bed. You can give yourself a set amount of time each day to check-in and ensure that everything is flowing smoothly and that nothing catastrophic occurred.
Turn Push Notifications Off
While you may be able to restrain yourself from checking in on emails and messages, you should also turn off push notifications. Push notifications will alert you of any new and incoming emails or messages on your phone. You should turn these off while on vacation to help you disconnect from the office.
Plan Your Return
Depending on how many days you go on vacation, you can be looking at a large volume of unread emails on your return. Be sure to clear your calendar on your first day back and allocate a number of hours to review anything you may have missed. You should also meet with your manager and colleagues to discuss the happenings that occurred while you were away.
Bring Back Souvenirs
While you may feel guilty about leaving your team for a vacation, you can help ease your guilt by bringing back a small souvenir or token of appreciation. This can include a shot glass, a box of chocolates which can be shared, or a small knickknack from the country you vacationed at.This small token can go a long way to showing your appreciation and thankfulness to your team.
Vacationing is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your own mental and physical health. Getting away from the office can appear scary, but with proper planning and support from your team, it can be done easily and seamlessly. Be sure to prepare yourself mentally for your time off and to fully enjoy yourself. Don’t forget, those emails aren’t going anywhere and will be there when you return!
This guest post was written by Robert Moses. He is the founder of The Corporate Con/noisseur. He is an avid reader and traveler and lives with his beautiful wife and adorable cat in Atlanta, Georgia.