How to Enjoy Your Time Away From the Office

Motivation to go to work every day is an important component to our overall happiness. The average work week is for a full time employee is 47 hours per week. With the rise of smartphones, laptop computers and email, our contentedness makes our office anywhere we are in the world.  

For example, now when I go on vacation I actually need to mentally disconnect, plan my work and turn off email to enjoy my vacation. It’s taken me practice to get to this point of disconnection, but it makes me more present and in the moment of my experiences. Early in my career, I would be constantly checking my email, phone notifications and calling the office. I didn’t mentally ‘check-out’ of the office. I was never gone. It was a disservice for me as a human, a spouse and employee to not recharge and experience my time away from work.  

If you are an entrepreneur, self-employed, hourly or in school, any time you are away from work, it means money not in the bank. So, please make sure to enjoy your time off with these tips and make the most of your time experiencing new places. The ability to step away and recharging gives you the motivation to take on new challenges. Stepping away from your business is extra important for this group. I want to stress these tips are for you, too.       

How to Enjoy Your Time Away & Come Back Recharged

Communicate with Your Team

Going on vacation for any amount of time leaves a gap. Your position fills a key need in your team or department. Who will be the point person while you are gone? Even before a vacation is on the books, you need to have a plan in place to address your absence. When I was on a team, I would communicate with my leader of my desire to have a back up plan in place. A back up plan is the most effective way to keep your work moving forward. It can also keep another person in the loop on your ‘day to day’ just in case you are out of the office for an extended period of time. When you do go on vacation, you can meet with your teammate to funnel key messaging to this in-person office contact.

Disconnect from certain accounts / Turn off Notifications

I learned later in my career it is OKAY to disconnect from email. We become to accustomed to certain behaviors in the workplace, we accept it as the norm. When I go on vacation I disconnect from work email accounts and only check email once a day from an offsite computer. I communicated this to my co-workers so they understand my communication isn’t within the minute of sending the email, it would be more like checking at night and they would receive it at work the following morning. I also turn off all notifications and the email counter on my iphone app. I started to do this in my normal ‘everyday life’. It has absolutely helped reduce my anxiety. I highly recommend it!   

Out of Office Reply

I always use out of office replies. Many people I have worked with over the year have varying opinions on out of office replies. I see this as a generational and career choice difference. For example, when working with a lawyer, he saw his role as being at the call of his clients, so he was always reachable—he never had an out of office message. My roles within non-profit or higher education institutions, it was paramount to place an out of office on my email. If an answer needed to happen by end of business day, the out of office message would reply back to the sender, allowing them to go another direction in getting an answer.

It took a negative vacation experience to shake me back to reality. I was on a planned family vacation during the wrap up of a large work project. It was stressful to manage such a large project virtually and enjoy my family time. It was my hubby who helped me come to the realization everyone at the family function was stepping away from their own important work—not just me—and I was constantly using my emails, calls, etc. to show I value work more, while my family was valuing their time together. This experience really stuck with me, so I write this for everyone having challenges with disconnecting. Take my example to heart, and take time to implement these tips to your daily routine to be present in each moment.

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XOXO,

Jess