As I am making my packing list for vacation, I find myself including my work supplies. I pause. Do I really need this while I am on vacation? NO! I shut my eyes and scribble all my work supplies off my vacation packing list and promise myself to disconnect from work.
Can you relate or feel pressured to do so? It’s important to set boundaries with yourself and your work, especially on vacation. How can you relax if you’re checking in all the time or on conference calls? Here are some tips that I have had to create for myself when “taking time off” to disconnect and I have felt a huge sense of relief. Your vacation-mates will thank you too!
Clear your calendar. We usually know at least a few weeks, if not months, in advance when we are taking time away. This is usually pre-approved with the boss. Once booked, put it immediately on your work calendar for all to see that you’ll be away- be sure to make that busy button so no one can schedule with you. If any meeting comes in during that time, free yourself and click “decline.”
Communicate to others that you will be unavailable, for real. Tell and email your boss, peers, department, or vendors that you will be on vacation-more than once if necessary. Put it on their calendar. Tell them that you are really looking forward to taking time away from work and connecting with family (or heck yourself) and will not be available. Period. If they try to reel you in, confidently say no. There is no need for details, you’re just unavailable.
Prepare for your departure. A month prior to your vacation, prioritize the upcoming weeks to complete projects or deadlines that are occurring during or right before/after your scheduled vacation. This ensures your being gone won’t hold anything back and people have a reason to “need” you.
Enlist help. If there are parts of a project or a task that absolutely must be done while you are gone, ask for help. Give them all the information they need to perform the task. The easier the process and more education you provide, the better for them; and you can worry less. If there is not someone you can think of to help, bring it up to your boss and come up with a solution together on how to handle it, without you being involved while away. Perhaps there can be some flexibility on the deadline.
Set your internal boundaries. Now that you have done an excellent job of setting yourself up to be unavailable; you must BE unavailable. This means resisting the urge to check emails, call the office, or bring work with you. If you break this rule and see an email that you could respond to or help; don’t. Creating expectations and boundaries create mutual respect, unless they are broken. This will also make future boundaries harder to keep the next time you tell someone you are unavailable on your vacation. Let your phone go to voicemail. Your email out of office should be up with instructions on who to contact and you can even put it on your voicemail greeting.
Get over yourself. We can all probably feel that we are needed and projects can’t go on without us. Or no one can really can do your job as good as you. If this is the case, then you or the company has other issues which we can save for another story. Whether we believe it or not, the world can operate without us, especially 5 or so business days. You and your team should also be set up to support one another. If there is a TRUE emergency, communicate with someone where you will be and they can track you down the old-fashioned way via landline if they REALLY had to. If you are in a high-level position at your company, getting paid the big bucks do not feel that you owe them your time while away. Remember that PTO is a benefit and it is expected to fully be taken by everyone. It’s part of your salary, not a bonus.
Relax and be present. In times when we start thinking about work and get the urge to check emails or wonder if something is getting done; tell yourself to relax. Create a mantra you can repeat to yourself “Leave work at work”. Why are you on this vacation? Who are you there to connect with? What memories are you creating? Don’t let your loved ones create all the memories while you stare at a screen and think about deadlines. If you’re self-employed and worried about losing a sale, remember that there will be other sales that the one you “missed” was not meant to be.
Taking vacations are so important for healthy careers and life in general. Set expectations at work about your unavailability and stick to your personal boundaries so you can reconnect with you. You can do it, I promise and your job will survive without you! If your work does not respect this, it could be time to start thinking about a change.
What steps are you going to make to set work boundaries during your vacation and/or Holidays?
Are you ready to make a positive change in your life? Take my FREE Readiness for Change Quiz and find out!