In a recent post, I highlighted the anxiety that many Americans feel about taking vacation days, for fear that time away from the office would damage their careers.
It became clear during my research that a vacation should leave you feeling rested, relaxed, and ready to tackle whatever comes your way when you return to work — but that can only happen if you have a good vacation. You can only have that kind of battery-recharging vacation if you totally disengage from work while you are away. The problem is that many people don’t do this: a shocking 61 percent of people continue to do work while they are on vacation.
Since so many people have trouble totally switching themselves off during vacation, I thought it was important to expand on my previous article and provide detailed advice on how to properly disconnect from the office during your holiday.
1. Vacation Abroad
One of the best ways to switch off is to go abroad. Being such a long way from the office can create a psychological barrier between you and your work.
Moreover, your colleagues realize that you will spend a lot of time in transit and out of contact. You won’t even have to say a word to your teammates: simply going abroad will lower their expectations of being able to reach you while you are away.
2. Set the Expectation That You Will Be Incommunicado
Before heading out for vacation, many people tell their colleagues that they will be checking their email. Some even directly ask their coworkers to keeping them in the loop! If you do this, people will treat you as if you are still working. They’ll be sending mails, leaving messages, and keeping you in the loop – and you’ll find it hard to wind down.
If you really want to switch off, set clear expectations before you leave. Expressly tell your coworkers that you will be incommunicado during your vacation. Send a memo which states in no uncertain terms that you won’t be checking your work email and that your work phone will be switched off.
This has to be one of the most simple and effective means to really switch off during holiday. See your holiday as a developmental opportunity for your colleagues by delegating your traditional responsibilities to them, if possible. If you’re not in a leadership or management position, don’t assume you’re free to dump your duties on your coworkers — talk to management first.
If you are in a leadership or management position, your goal should be to leave the department in a position such that it will be able to run itself while you are away. There should be no reason for anyone to contact you; your team should be able to handle everything without you.
4. Go Off the Grid for a While
If you really don’t have the willpower to disconnect from work voluntarily — if you find that, despite your best efforts, you’re still taking calls and checking your email – you may need to take more drastic action. What I mean is: take a vacation somewhere that’s totally Internet-free.
If there’s no router in sight, it’s game over for work, isn’t it?
You don’t need to go roaming about in the wilderness to find such a destination. There are plenty of technology-free locations in the world. To get started, check out this Huffington Post list of “7 Places You Can Escape the Internet.”
5. Don’t Let Your Mind Wander onto Work
You can go as far away from the office and the Internet as you’d like, but you won’t be able to enjoy your vacation if your mind keeps wandering back to what you’re missing at work. Your best option, then, is to distract your mind with as many fun, exciting activities as you can.
Try out some fresh, new experiences. Learn how to scuba dive, hang with the locals, or go on a full-fledged adventure holiday, like a safari trip. Before you know it, work will be the furthest thing from your mind – and then you will know you have properly switched off.