Good news: You’ve finally taken a few days off of work to recharge before the new year. The bad news? Unplugging isn’t actually your strong suit. But research shows that you a better employee and leader when you step away to enjoy your life away from the grind. In other words, don’t feel obligated to stay connected to the office twenty-four-seven. We promise you’ll thank us later.
But in the meantime, since shutting off is easier said than done, I created a quick-reference guide to help you resist the temptation to check and respond to those time-wasting email chains.
Click through for five tips that will help you play just as hard as you work.
1) Delegate tasks in advance
Before you set that out-of-office reply, make sure you’ve planned ahead. That means assigning tasks among the team or pushing back any deadlines on projects that aren’t urgent. If that’s not possible, here’s an alternative: Stick around a few extra hours a day or two before you’re scheduled to go away just to make sure you tackle anything that’s time-sensitive. The investment now equals peace of mind later. And for the solo entrepreneurs out there, consider hiring a temporary assistant or intern to handle the day-to-day operations, which tend to take up more time than we often realize.
2) Set communication boundaries
Though second on our list, this may the most important tip on the list. Why? Glad you asked! If your bosses, clients and colleagues are alert to when and how to reach you, chances are they’ll honor the structure you’ve put in place. There’s no such thing as “over-communicating” so go over every imaginable scenario (what happens if you can’t connect to VPN, who is responsible for touching base with clients regarding revisions, etc.). That means designating a point of contact for each of the job functions that will go unfulfilled while you’re away, scheduling available time windows you’ll be reading and responding to emails.
3) Don't bring work-related tech with you
Simply put, if you have a company-issued laptop, leave it. There’s truth in the cliché “out of sight, out of mind.” If it’s mandatory you take it with you, then have a sit-down with your boss to let her know that you’re happy to accommodate her request and then share your “office hours” so she’s aware of when you’ll be online. And if you have a work-only phone, leave it at home while you’re out enjoying your time off. The result? You’re forced to honor the boundaries you committed to in the step above.
4) Hold yourself accountable
There’s no use in arranging these contingencies if you’re going to renege three hours into your vacation. So say what you mean and mean what you say. And if that’s too hard for you, find an accountability partner for an assist. You’ll see why in the next step.
5) Know that everything will be there when you return
The biggest challenge for type-A workaholics is just to let go. But there are very few fires that can’t be put out within the framework you’ve established in the previous four steps. And take it from us: When you return to the office and the nonstop deadlines, tedious back-to-back meetings and client dinners that pilfer whatever social life you thought you had, you’ll wish you had pulled the plug when you had the chance.