Are you finding yourself daydreaming about relaxing on the beach with a book in one hand and a drink in the other? Or exploring all a new city has to offer with your tastebuds? Perhaps your dream getaway is a secluded cabin where you can fully unplug? Whatever the escape is, I think we can all agree that everyone (even you!) is long overdue for a vacation.
Earlier this Summer, we spelled out what rest looks like in 2021 and why dusting off those PTO days are important –
Studies show that taking a vacation can lower your stress levels. Endless work with too few breaks can cloud your brain. In fact, it’ll get harder and harder to concentrate, focus, and remember things. Time away to rest mentally and physically can help you return more focused and energized.
If you’ve decided that now is the right time to pack it up and pack it in, it’s an absolute must that you set yourself up to have a truly relaxing vacation. It’ll be hard to enjoy your time off if you’re constantly getting notifications on email or slack about everything from the status of the big proposal or who left a smelly sandwich in the fridge.
Planning for a smooth exit starts way before you select the window seat and checkout.
Give ample notice
You’ll want to give your employer as much notice as possible. At minimum, you should give two weeks. However, if you know of your plans months in advance, there’s no harm in sharing the details. This will help your employer plan for coverage while you’re away. As a best practice, wait until your request has been approved before purchasing tickets or securing hotel reservations. Your employer might have already received other vacation requests around that time. If you’re flexible on your dates, let them know. Most employers want you to take time off. A lot of companies have now adopted unlimited vacation policies as a perk, which has really helped employees everywhere achieve the coveted “work-life balance”. Once your request is approved, you can put the wheels in motion.
Update your calendar and invite your team
You’ll want to create a calendar event for your vacation and invite your boss, your team, and anyone else who you think needs to know this information. You don’t have to put where you’ll be going or what you’ll be doing (you can if you want!). This calendar event will also help your colleagues plan around your absence, and will remind them as the date approaches. You can add to the invite details on how to be reached for emergencies, or if you’ll be checking emails. This information can also be added to your Out Of Office automatic email reply (don’t forget to set that up!).
Review upcoming dates
Sort out what meetings, deadlines and milestones will occur during your time off and plan accordingly. If you usually present at the weekly budget meeting, ensure a teammate has all the necessary details to cover for you. If you really wanna vaca like a pro, buy the colleague that is covering for you a coffee or lunch while you brief them on the details. Wrapping up all your loose ends will also ensure you don’t return from vacation with an inbox full of fires to put out.
Create a contingency plan
If you manage a team, ensure they know who to escalate issues to. Take time to map out different scenarios for them, and what to do in each situation. The more prep work you do before your departure, the more your mind will be at ease during your vacation. Colleagues respect each other’s time away from work, and will truly exhaust all resources before reaching out to you when you’re out of the office. Set them up with all the resources they need to succeed in your absence.
Plan how you will relax
Will you check email once more before boarding the plane? Will you end your evenings by scrolling through slack to see recaps from the day? How about just glancing at it quickly to make sure there are no pressing matters? The anxiety is real!
Remember – the work will always be there.
It’s okay for you to detach, and it’s even more okay for you to express that to your employer. This is easier for some than others, and might feel challenging to achieve in this post-pandemic environment. That’s ok. If it’s causing you turmoil not knowing what emails you’re getting, then spend a few minutes checking in. Perhaps tomorrow it’ll be easier to put your phone away. Plan moments of mindfulness where you are fully present in whatever you’re doing (or not doing!).
The goal is to return from your vacation relaxed and recharged, not feeling like you never left your desk.