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  • Judy Sims

Disconnected and Recharged: Your Guide to a Work-Free Vacation

Vacationing woman

Last week a client told me that her upcoming summer vacation "just seemed to get away" from her. Somehow, she managed to book not one, not two, but three work meetings during her two-week camping trip.


How did that happen? She’s not even sure. As an independent consultant, she just felt she couldn’t say no to her clients’ requests. I confess that I too fall into this trap with regularity. As an entrepreneur, I feel guilty when not working, even when on vacation.

We've all been there: the dream vacation tainted by nagging work anxieties. Emails ping, deadlines loom, and suddenly that beach read feels less like an escape and more like a chore. For many of us, a work-free vacation seems impossible.

But fear not, weary traveler! Here's your ultimate guide to keeping work at bay and ensuring your vacation is truly restorative.

Work-free Vacation Planning: Setting Boundaries

  • Communicate Early: Let colleagues and clients know well in advance about your vacation dates. Set clear expectations with an out-of-office message outlining your availability (or lack thereof).

  • Delegate and Prioritize: Delegate urgent tasks or brief a colleague to handle critical issues in your absence. Focus on completing high-priority projects before you leave.

  • Tie Up Loose Ends: Avoid being caught off guard by last-minute fires. Address any pressing issues in advance and leave clear instructions for your colleagues.

  • Set Clear Expectations: If some work is unavoidable, establish clear boundaries beforehand. Decide on a dedicated time slot (perhaps early mornings or evenings) to address urgent issues and stick to it.


Tech Tactics: Taming the Notification Monster

  • Silence the Noise: Turn off work email notifications on your phone and computer. Consider setting specific times (if any) to check in, limiting distractions.

  • Utilize Out-of-Office Autoresponders: Craft a clear and concise out-of-office message stating your return date and limited availability. Offer an alternative point of contact for urgent matters.

  • Airplane Mode Advantage: For a truly disconnected experience, consider using airplane mode during travel or designated relaxation periods.


Vacation Mindset: Prioritizing Relaxation

  • Embrace the "Do Not Disturb" Sign: Don't feel pressured to constantly check in. Trust your colleagues to handle things while you're away.

  • Schedule Fun, Not Work: Plan activities you genuinely enjoy, whether it's sightseeing, reading, or simply soaking up the sun. A packed itinerary of "should-dos" can feel just as stressful as work.

  • Practice Mindfulness: Techniques like meditation or deep breathing can help manage work-related anxieties. Focus on being present and enjoying the moment. This centering exercise may be helpful.

Bonus Tips: Setting Yourself Up for Success

  • Reward Yourself Upon Return: Schedule something enjoyable, like a massage or dinner with friends, for the day after you return. This positive reinforcement helps ease the transition back to work.

  • Maintain Boundaries Long-Term: Cultivate a work culture that respects vacation time. Lead by example and resist the urge to check in when colleagues are out.

Remember, vacations are essential for our wellbeing and productivity. By planning, setting boundaries, and prioritizing relaxation, you can ensure your well-deserved break is truly rejuvenating. So, pack your bags, silence your notifications, and get ready to disconnect and recharge!

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