Work is the vehicle towards success and progress. We know all the hard work that often goes into making dreams come true, but even the most resilient person can reach a burnout point or feel overworked. People often underestimate the effectiveness of vacations in keeping productivity at its peak. It’s amazing what a few days away from work can do for our mental well-being and mood.
As simple as it sounds, any committed workaholic will know how difficult it can really be to disconnect from work totally when on vacation. Many people are even afraid to completely disconnect from work for fear of falling behind on their workload, overloading coworkers, or missing out on that paycheck. There are all sorts of reasons we end up checking our work emails from the beach or taking calls when we are supposed to be resting.
When the time finally comes for the vacation you worked so hard for, many people still end up working at least once a day, checking email, or checking in with their boss or co-workers. Many people do it because they don’t want to be left behind or think that it will be less difficult to tackle the pending work when they return. But the truth is that attending to these concerns during free time can reduce the real benefits a vacation has to offer. Especially for remote workers, the ease of working wherever and whenever can blur the lines between work hours and downtime.
Suppose one of your concerns is having better performance at work. In that case, you should know that learning to really disconnect during the downtime can result in a better quality of sleep, a better quality of life, improvements in mood and interpersonal communication, stress relief, and enhanced mental health.
Additionally, it will allow you to get back to work with a clear head and a refreshed perspective that can significantly improve your productivity. This is undoubtedly one of the main benefits for many committed workers. In essence, thinking of downtime as a time to recharge so that you can be more productive can help you feel less guilty about taking time off.
Just as important as working hard and putting a lot of effort into your work duties is knowing how to disconnect from work on Vacation.
Taking breaks as part of your daily routine is vital to maintaining efficient performance in our tasks. Just as short active breaks during our day can boost our productivity, vacations can help us de-stress and refresh our minds so we can return to our duties recharged. Consequently, this can boost our skills, cognition, and problem-solving ability and allow us to see things from a different angle.
A 2019 study in the Netherlands suggests that people who can physically, emotionally, and cognitively detach from work upon completion of their work demonstrate better sleep cycles, increased concentration, improved energy levels, and better states of mind. These results were not the same when taking short work breaks, suggesting that the true benefits are seen over longer blocks of time.
It is crucial to keep in mind that if you attend to work issues during your vacation, even if it is only a few minutes a day, you are not allowing your brain to take an appropriate break from work. Instead, you should be resting and enjoying the time that is supposed to be spent with your loved ones or even some time alone to decompress. By giving your brain a break from work for an extended time, you are more likely to return to your activities refreshed, rejuvenated, and motivated to do your best. In this article, we will look at how to disconnect from work on vacation.
It may sound effortless in theory, but it can be challenging for some people to disconnect from work completely. We know that the inability to enjoy free time fully can even generate some stress. That is why we’ve compiled a list of 16 tips that you can follow to disconnect from work to get the most out of your time off.
Planning your disconnection from work in advance can help you stay disconnected once you are on vacation. In the weeks leading up to your days off, try to identify what potential events or problems could distract you during your vacation. If you have large or important projects, try to finish as much of the work as you can before you leave for vacation. Similarly, if you have tasks requiring you to meet deadlines, try to meet them before leaving. It is very helpful to plan weeks or even months in advance of your vacations to have cooperation from your team and accomplish all the pending tasks while you are on vacation. Try to prepare your work life for vacation the same way you might book a hotel or a flight in advance.
The best way to avoid checking your inbox every time it rings is to turn off work-related notifications. You can try putting work-related apps in an out-of-bounds folder. The habit of automatically checking phone notifications every five minutes can be detrimental to your well-being and your interpersonal relationships. It can interrupt family moments and especially your downtime on vacation. Putting work-related apps in a place that requires extra effort just to find them can help you avoid this bad habit and let you enjoy your break time.
Digital detox is a concept that consists of taking a break from computer screens, smartphones, and other digital devices. Learning how to be comfortable with not checking your work email or work phone regularly is essential to resting during your days off and completely disconnecting from work. There are many ways to disconnect from tech and remove the nagging urge to check your smartphone or computer constantly. The first and most important thing is changing your mindset and detaching yourself from your digital devices. You can also put your digital devices out of sight, set auto-reply messages to let others know you’re on vacation, or activate airplane mode.
Try to swap watching TV for reading a book or a morning meditation routine, going outside, or having a quick workout. Take some time to enjoy and discover what your vacation destination has to offer, especially if you are traveling to a new place. When you’re on vacation, try to make the most of new offline experiences, be more present in the here and now, put work-related concerns to one side and try to overlook the need to check email constantly. You can also do a gradual digital detox. For example, you can designate a specific time each day to catch up and answer work emails or complete strictly necessary tasks.
The ideal situation is one in which you don’t have to think about work while you’re on vacation. To make this possible, it’s better to take your vacation in the off-season or at a less busy time for your work. This way, your vacation will be convenient for you and your co-workers. Try to take some time to analyze what is happening with your team and with the projects to come. If you know your job will be busier during a specific period, try planning your vacation after your company’s work rush season.
Suppose you’re aware you can’t leave work and have an interruption-free vacation, consider taking shorter breaks or vacations. In this way, you’ll be able to enjoy your days off without any work interruptions. A shorter trip that allows you to completely disconnect from work may be worth more than a long trip where you have to constantly check in with the office. For example, some workers take off every Friday for five weeks and then a week off once a year. If you can’t afford to take a long uninterrupted vacation, this method could be the best for you.
Be sure to put it on your calendar as soon as you set the date. This way, your co-workers will be aware in advance and know precisely when you will be absent from the office or available to attend to work responsibilities. When you add your holidays to your calendar, you also avoid scheduling conflicts. While you’ll still likely have to miss some meetings, your co-workers will know ahead of time that you won’t be able to attend them, and hopefully, they’ll respect the fact that you’re on vacation. The information you provide to your colleagues will set the expectations and boundaries.
While scheduling your vacations to your Google calendar or work calendar should help a lot, you’ll also need to reach out to some co-workers and tell them about your days off directly. Not all of your colleagues may check your calendar regularly enough, and this way, you will ensure that everyone who needs to know about your absence from work is aware. Of course, you’ll need to let your boss know, but you should also tell coworkers you interact with regularly so they don’t expect any work interactions with you during your time off. You can make a list of the people you need to tell about your vacation.
Sometimes during the holidays – especially if you choose to travel outside the city – you will find areas with very little or no wi-fi connection. When we find ourselves in this situation, we often feel the need to pay for Wi-Fi in the hotel. Sometimes we try to find a coffee shop with a reasonably fast Wi-Fi connection. Any of these options can waste time and money that we could invest in enjoying our time off. Wi-Fi abroad can be pretty expensive and is usually not worth the money. Choosing to stay offline may be the wisest choice because if work notifications can’t reach you, it’s more likely that you won’t feel tempted to go online to respond and better enjoy your surroundings and downtime.
Compose an automated response to messages that arrive in your inbox that let coworkers know that you won’t be available for business. Your colleagues should understand and respect your time off and save any questions they may have to ask you for when you return. You can also leave your calendar available for your colleagues to schedule their appointments with you and thus attend to pending issues once you return to work.
You can help yourself by using an app to set times when you use your phone for work or general use. There are many apps that you can use to limit your phone usage time. Once you reach that limit, the application will remind you that you have reached the set time limit, or it will simply block your phone depending on the application you use or the settings you configure.
One of the ways to avoid the temptation to check your inbox is to download everything related to your travel information and essential paperwork such as plane tickets, Covid tests, permits, or any document you need to travel. Sometimes many of these documents are conveniently stored in our email. By downloading all this type of information, you won’t have to go to your email to access them and, in this way, you avoid the temptation to keep checking the rest of your inbox.
It can be challenging to completely break the connection with work during the holidays.
Some people can get quite anxious about not checking work emails, but the idea is not to build up more stress during your days off. Try to set a specific time to check in each day. A good tip for this is to establish your email checking time outside of your colleagues’ work hours. That way, you avoid getting stuck in a chain of emails the rest of the day or night.
You can go a step further than just turning off notifications by signing out of work-related email accounts or apps you use for work. You can have a personal account to contact friends, family, or to have all the information of your trip at hand in that email. You can even create an email account specifically for your trip that none of your co-workers have access to. If they don’t have that email address, they won’t be able to contact you, and you won’t feel the pressure of having to reply to unread messages.
If you’re traveling with a group of friends or family with the same phone dependencies and difficulties disconnecting from work as you, consider having your phones confiscated. The game is to place all the phones in the center of the table during dinner, and the first one to check their phone loses. This game helps you feel motivated to not look at your phone for more extended periods, especially if you are really competitive.
If you use devices exclusively for work like phones, tablets, or computers, and you know that there really is no way you can log out of work accounts on those devices or that your colleagues won’t stop texting you, leaving those devices at home can be the most viable option. If your personal devices are separate from your work devices, simply leave your work devices at home. In this way, they will be able to contact you in case of an actual emergency, but you will not be bothered during the rest of your vacation.
Technology is not the most significant obstacle to disconnecting from work completely. The biggest obstacle is ourselves. It makes perfect sense: if you work 40+ hours a week for 50 weeks a year, you may find it quite challenging to take your mind off work. It can also be challenging to break the Pavlovian association between hearing the phone ring and switching your brain into work mode.
To break this automatic association, you can help yourself by planning strategies to put your devices in vacation mode.
For example, when you go on a diet you usually don’t leave the bag of chips on the kitchen table. In the same way, it is better to put work out of reach during downtime so that you can enjoy yourself rather than relying solely on your willpower. In this way, instead of apologizing for carrying your phone, as usual, you will be able to enjoy your days off even if you have your devices close at hand.