In our busy world, it can be challenging to leave work at work and detach while on vacation. As a tech career coach and recovering workaholic, I understand how difficult it can be to disconnect and enjoy vacation time, especially as you climb the career ladder.
So how do you fully unplug when taking time off? Continue reading for six strategies to make detaching from work easier so you can truly reap the benefits of your PTO.
6 Tips To Disconnect And Enjoy Your Vacation Time
1. Prepare ahead of time.
For starters, successfully disengaging from work requires you to plan ahead and notify people that you’ll be on PTO. In addition to setting an out-of-office message, which I’ll cover in subsequent steps, if you’ll be away for more than a few days, you might consider adding a note in your email signature so email recipients can plan for your absence. This can be as simple as: “I’ll be out of the office from [date] to [date]. If you have an urgent need during this time, please [action].”
2. Adopt a “heck yes” or “heck no” mentality.
As you plan your PTO, consider adopting a “heck yes” or “heck no” mentality around disconnecting, since teetering in “heck maybe” territory can lead to burnout and make it difficult for colleagues to understand and respect your boundaries. Here are a few examples that can serve as a jumping-off point:
- “Heck yes, I’ll be available for work emergencies during my time away.”
- “Heck no, I won’t be available via email while I’m out of the office.”
- “Heck yes, I’m going to spend an hour on this work project so I can then enjoy my vacation and not think about it.”
- “Heck no, I’m not going to bring my work laptop with me on vacation.”
3. Decide on your level of accessibility.
An important area to contemplate is how accessible you’ll be during your vacation time, since not all roles allow you to completely disconnect while you’re climbing the ladder. Consequently, you must decide whether, and how, people can contact you during your away time. The following are some questions worth considering.
- Who is allowed to contact me on vacation?
- What situations might require my attention?
- How do I want to be contacted?
Tip: You might find it helpful to set aside 1-2 times per day when you spend X minutes to check your email while you’re out of the office.
4. Communicate your boundaries.
Next, you’ll want to communicate your boundaries, as you can’t expect that everyone maintains the same philosophy when it comes to time off. Notably, your boundaries may vary depending on the colleague and will likely evolve throughout your career. Dr. Nedra Glover Tawwab’s book, Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, is a good resource and has an entire chapter on creating and communicating boundaries at work.
TL;DR: Know your limits, consistently communicate your boundaries, and hold people accountable when they overstep.
5. Prepare your electronic devices.
Once you’re on your vacation, you’ll want to set an out-of-office message that clearly communicates how people should move forward during your absence. Because it can be tempting to quickly check emails when you’re on vacation, you might find it helpful to completely remove work-related apps from your phone (yes, that includes both your calendar and Slack). If you’re traveling, you might also find it helpful to leave both your work computer and phone at home.
6. Ease back into the office after your time off.
Lastly, you’ll want to reflect on how you want to manage your return from vacation. When possible, give yourself a day (or two) to catch up on emails and prepare for meetings. Over the years, I’ve learned that I’m at my best when I ease back into the (remote) office slowly, particularly after longer trips. Oh, it also doesn’t hurt to carve out some time to plan your next vacation, either.
Final Thoughts On Disconnecting From Work And Enjoying Your Vacation
Work-life balance is an ongoing journey, and while I don’t have all the answers, I hope these tips provide you with some inspiration. Here’s hoping that you can disconnect from work occasionally and truly enjoy your next vacation. You’ve got this!