8 Steps to Truly Unplug When You Take That Much Needed Summer Vacation
Findings from Expedia’s 2016 Vacation Deprivation Report, an annual study of vacation habits of employed adults in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, show that American workers trail much of the world in work-life balance. Workplace pressure to perform and an inability to disconnect from technology are just two reasons cited for why Americans are overworked and under-relaxed.
While Fingercheck makes it easy to work remotely, vacations are typically intended to be periods of rest and relaxation. Yet 63 percent of American workers work at least 30 minutes a day on vacation, and on top of that, last year on average Americans received 15 paid vacation days and only took 12.
If you’re vowing to use your vacation to recharge, these prep tips can help you realistically disconnect from work and step away from your devices:
Request vacation time
Half the battle of going away is asking for the time off. According to Expedia’s study, “nine percent of Americans said they worried that taking their full allotment of days off ‘will be perceived negatively’ by their employer” and “about 14 percent of Americans reported feeling high levels of guilt about taking time off.”
If you’re worried, do some logistical prep work prior to making your request. Choose a date range that doesn’t compromise major projects, key client meetings, or leaves your colleagues swamped during the busy season. Anchor the discussion around key points that justify your request for time off.
Once you’ve received approval, start planning. In order to shake the feeling that you’ve left something incomplete (which is bound to catch up to you on your trip), take initiative early on and give your employees and customers advanced notice that you’ll be taking time off. The details you share are up to you to decide, but be sure to include the date range you’ll be leaving for, how long you’ll be gone, and who will be covering your responsibilities.
Facilitate the transfer of duties over to colleagues or employees who are equipped to help manage the load while you’re away. Does everyone have what they need from you? Are there instructions you’ve yet to pass on? Does everyone understand their share of the responsibilities you’ve split across the team? Make sure you’ve provided all the methodologies and training needed to cover your role.
Turn off smartphone notifications
This is just good old common sense. If you don’t want to be distracted by a flood of work-related notifications, turn off your smartphone notifications. That being said, if you can’t fathom being in the dark the entire trip, you don’t have to forego checking work altogether. If possible, limit your work check-ins to just twice a day, like once in the morning and once at night.
Appoint a gatekeeper
Appoint one gatekeeper to be the transmitter of updates and inform the rest of the office that messages need to be communicated through them. Stress that only emergencies be shared. Prior to leaving, tell your gatekeeper the times you’ll be available so they know when they can expect a reply.
Set up an email auto-reply
Set up an email auto-reply that will automatically bounce back to all emails received during your vacation. Try to make the email reply clear and concise, including details like how long you’ll be away for when you’ll return, and who to contact for assistance. Above all else, refrain from giving your direct cell phone number out.
Consider making a discreet new email address
Solitude may come more easily if you set up a separate email account to use exclusively on these trips away. This way, you can make yourself reachable to people you want to check in with (like a babysitter or house-sitter), and you can use mail rules and filters to auto-forward specific emails from your work account, like communications from a key client or the company CEO.
Make one final checklist
Itemize your duties and responsibilities and go down the entire list to make sure the rest of the team has what they need from you before you leave. Remember that your job, while important, can be shouldered by a few others while you’re gone and that trusting your colleagues will create unity in your department.
Utilizing these tips can lead to peace of mind once you’re finally on your way to your destination. The importance of taking time out to recharge is essential. Building a healthy work-life balance will keep you happy, healthy, and prevent employee burnout.