With information media being available 24/7 and Wi-Fi offered at most hotels and even on the airplane, it has become extremely difficult to disconnect from work so you can relax and enjoy your vacation. Add in a competitive job market and it ramps up the stress level of being away even further. It is easy to feel nervous when you are not available for your boss, making you reluctant to go on vacation and enjoy yourself. Luckily, there are some ways for setting professional boundaries while you are away which won’t make you feel like your career is in jeopardy.
Before leaving for vacation, it is important to set up a plan with a co-worker regarding handling emergencies while you are away. Similar to a doctor rotation, arrange with a trusted colleague to cover for you and offer to do the same for that person when they are away. If something arises that he or she does not know how to handle in your absence, give them permission to contact you. If you are the manager or an executive, be very clear that you will not be checking in nor should they be contacting you unless it is a true emergency. Showing your employees the same respect when they are on vacation creates a common standard of behavior.
It is important to be precise about your availability when you are away. For example, you can tell co-workers that you will check your emails once per day at a certain time, say 11am, starting the third day of your trip. This allows you to have the first two days to unwind and relax. It takes about 24-48 hours for your brain to disengage from work mode. If they absolutely need to speak with you, they must reach you by 11am. Otherwise, they will have to wait until the following morning for a response.
Be sure to set up an auto- reply message on your work email that you will be away and unable to respond until your return date. Provide an alternate contact name and email address for anything that can’t wait until your return. Also, tell people that you will not be accepting work-related texts during your trip.
While on vacation, force yourself to become fully engaged in activities. Go snorkeling, hiking, or immerse yourself in that best seller you have wanted to read while relaxing by the pool. If you have children, give them your full attention. You have to completely disconnect from work mode before you will be able to recharge and enjoy yourself. Stick like glue to the instructions you set up before your trip. Stay off the phone with work and don’t sneak and look at work emails throughout the day.
Back to Reality
Once you are back to work after your vacation, you should be in a better place both physically and mentally. If you did your planning right, you should not be returning to mounds of problems. However, it is a good idea to devote one hour at home the night before you return to work to reading emails and texts. It helps to do this in your comfy sweats with a glass of wine in hand to try to continue that “vacation” feeling. This will help make the next day a bit less crazy by knowing what to expect and just maybe help continue that vacation feeling a bit longer.