As a professional, while at work you know to leave personal issues at the door.
However, the reverse should be true, as well. While on vacation, you need to give yourself and your family your full attention too.
To do this properly, you need to unplug and detach yourself from work, but this is easier said than done!
Use this guide as a checklist to effectively disconnect from work and give you and your travel mates the attention you all deserve.
Configure a Perfect Out-of-Office Reply
An out-of-office email auto-response is the first tool most employees use to alert others of an ongoing leave of absence.
However, it might not do much to allay any anxiety over what’s coming in, as well as how you’ll be able to cope with the deluge of emails awaiting you upon your return.
So, it’s up to you to craft one that helps you out more effectively and efficiently.
First, add an associate’s contact information (after clearing it with them, of course) to take some of the workload off of your hands. This will also ensure that any urgent priorities get the attention needed. Also, kindly request that they re-email you when you get back to the office. You could also think about auto-forwarding emails, especially from specific email addresses. Finally, consider starting the OOO reply a day early or adding an extra day onto it at the end—this will give you some free time to take care of things!
Oh, and don’t forget to apply an O³ response to your personal email accounts, as well!
Make Sure They All Know You’re Off
A great out-of-office reply is, well, great, but that’s more for clients and those in your company that might email you. For your colleagues that don’t email you, how would they know?
Make sure you set your days off on your company’s calendar, especially. Also, set a status on any chat or other applications you use, such as Slack or Skype.
Silence Work Notifications
For most of us, our personal phones double as another portal into our work life. To give yourself a real holiday from the office, turn off all your work notifications. Keep a note with a list of the accounts you’ve muted, and set yourself a calendar reminder for the day after you return to re-enable all the notifications you’ve silenced.
Lauren, of Health Labs, goes even further. “I remove all work apps from my phone. We use Slack as the messaging system for employees within our company to communicate with each other. Previously, I would mark my status as ‘away’ and put my notifications to snooze, but I would still find myself checking it. In an effort to combat that, I've begun removing the app from my phone completely. While I'm on vacation, I know I won't go through the trouble of downloading the app, figuring out my two-step verification and re-logging in.”
Pack Personal Devices Only
If you were given a work phone or other device, leave it at home (unless you are obligated to keep it on you). Strategically give a few key people at work your personal cell number to reach you only in the case of the most dire of emergencies. Oblige them to stick to this rule by mentioning that you may be out of network, or the international roaming fees will be exorbitantly preposterous.
Go on the Offensive
In addition to setting that great out-of-office reply, consider being proactive. The day before you leave the office, send out an email message to your most-contacted clients and coworkers to inform them of your upcoming plans. You can add the same info that you would in your out-of-office response. This will help cut down on the total number of emails you return to—now that’s a vacation!
Laura Handrick, an HR Analyst for FitSmallBusiness, emphasizes the importance of this technique. “Two weeks prior to my extended time off, I work with my team to determine who will be the go-to person for each of my areas of responsibility long before I'm out of the office. Then I put that information in an auto-reply email response so that it's crystal clear who the emailer (or caller) can talk to or forward their question to for whatever the issue.”
Don’t forget to set a vacation voicemail and chat message, as well, if they apply.
Win the Morning
To successfully win the day, you have to first win the morning. That’s the advice from Colorado’s top retirement planner, Matthew Jackson.
“I have found that I must completely disrupt and replace my work routine with a routine specific to vacationing. During my focused free thinking I set the intention of what I’d like to accomplish that day. I visualize it vividly. What I focus on depends on the type of day I want to have: relaxing, adventure travel, laying in a hammock, getting sun, meeting new people, exploring new places, followed by the visualization of the perfect evening all the way to bedtime…feeling happy, refreshed, and relaxed.”
Unplug From More Than the Office
Sometimes, to properly get yourself into vacation mode, you may have to go further than just stopping directly work-related items. If you’re in finance, avoid your routine news briefing on the stock market, for example. Another thing to avoid might be your Google Feed, or any machine learning-based news feed; these get to understand your interests and topics over time, and they could often include items that’ll get you thinking about work.
Jeff Walsh of Nomo-FOMO (a true expert for this article!) adds, “Delete authentication if possible on your phone so even if you want to plug back in, you don't have the temptation.”
Set Up a Plan for Your Return
A great way to conquer any anxiety about all that awaits you upon your return is to have a plan in place of how you’ll tackle your first day back. On a more detailed level, you can plan out how you’ll knock out specific tasks in segments.
For example, for handling my inbox after I get back from a holiday, I immediately delete all newsletters that have come in; this usually lowers my unread emails by half or more. Then, I start from the most recent, because sometimes a problem will have fixed itself (like email B saying, “Oh, never mind, I figured out email A”).
Another thing to plan for is to have a coworker designated who can spend 5 to 10 minutes briefing you on what’s happened when you get back. If you feel guilty that you are enjoying the sun while that colleague gets double the work, bring them back a nice souvenir and tell them you’ll do the same when it’s their turn.
Commit (And Stick to It!)
At the end of the day, you’re the one responsible—you can give yourself the restful vacation you deserve, or you can be your own worst enemy.
Set boundaries, and stick to them.
Consider an Emergency Email Address
Seb Dean, founder of Imaginaire Digital, gives this advice: “Set-up an 'urgent' email address: sometimes you're going to have to be contactable as the head of the business. I generally set up an urgent email address which I can access on my phone which is only for the crucial emails—i.e. a disaster strikes. I tell my team not to email anything else to this address.
When you've got your urgent email setup, temporarily remove your normal email address from your phone so that you can't check it and give somebody in your team access to check it. Unfortunately, if you leave it active, you'll find yourself checking your emails even if they're not important. By having a team member checking your main email account, they'll be able to forward anything truly urgent to your urgent address.”
Pick a Different Destination
Sometimes the problem isn’t you, but rather it’s the destination. Ketan Kapoor, CEO & cofounder of Mettl, says this: “Your vacay destination must allow your brain to acclimatize and adapt all over again to external conditions such as culture, environment, weather and dietary preferences. Going to the local cafe and sipping your routine cup of coffee isn’t going to help at all. Instead, you must choose a location that is completely different from the places that you generally visit that will instigate your mind to rewire completely around new factors, thereby allowing you to unplug in a true sense.”
Anthony from the Travel Tart adds, “When cell phone towers were proposed to be installed on Lord Howe Island, the community overwhelmingly opposed it. So the entire island doesn't have cell phone coverage. When I went there, it was so refreshing to not be able to receive mobile phone calls, and I didn't miss it at all! The only way I could be contacted was by old fashioned landline at the hotel. Everyone should try it sometime!”
Have Someone Hold You Accountable
If you are taking a trip with someone, like a group of friends or your significant other, have them shoulder some of your burden.
“If you know you can't do this on your own, and you are traveling with someone, have them hold you accountable to your commitment of not doing any work while on vacation. Do something that will make you think before you reach for the phone and check work emails, something like pay your travel partner every time you do any work,” says Theresa Nguyen, RN MSN.
So, what do you think?
To effectively detach yourself while on holiday, you need to do so physically, mentally, emotionally, and digitally.
I hope these tips will allow you to unplug from the office on your next trip!
Got any other tips or advice on disconnecting from work while vacationing? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!