Everyone needs a holiday from work in order to keep their brain and their body in peak working order. In fact, one study into the importance of taking a break from work once in a while found that the “personal benefits [of a holiday] include: rest and recuperation from work; provision of new experiences leading to a broadening of horizons and the opportunity for learning and intercultural communication; promotion of peace and understanding; personal and social development; visiting friends and relatives; religious pilgrimage and health; and, subjective wellbeing.”
Of course, you hardly need a scientist to tell you that taking a holiday does you good, and is essential for managing stress. But sometimes it can be hard to truly relax, even when you are on holiday. You may find yourself worrying about ‘leaving the work behind’, or who is going to take care of your job while you’re away, or how you will catch-up with everything on your return.
These are common worries, but that doesn’t mean you have to be plagued by them. The key lies in planning ahead before you leave, so that you can really leave work behind, without having to think about the office or worry about how things are going.
Here are six steps that will help you prepare and get the most of your relaxation time.
1. Make a plan – Going on holiday is a disruption to your normal workflow, so you need to make a plan to ensure that the transition will go as smoothly as possible. List all key tasks and deadlines, and then organise them into several lists, such as things you’re going to do before your holiday, things whoever is covering for you will need to take care of, and things you can do when you return. This will help you to quantify the work, and make sure that everything is taken care of. You can use business productivity tools like Trello to organise your lists, whilst Power PDF can be used to share and collaborate on any vital documents with your colleagues.
2. Arrange cover – As well as letting any clients or colleagues that you work with know that you are away, you should arrange for someone to cover your relationship with them where appropriate. Make sure you have sufficient time to train and explain everything to your ‘replacement, so that productivity in the office doesn’t suffer while you’re away.
3. Set up an email auto-responder – Do this early, as if you leave it till the last minute you may well forget to do it at all, resulting in more stress. Make sure you include details of who should be contacted if the email is urgent, and the date of your return. If you plan on checking your email intermittently while you’re away, you may also want to set up filters in your email application, so that only those most important emails reach your main inbox.
4. Leave password details – If you’re planning on severing contact with all or specific online accounts, make sure you leave login details with an appropriate and trusted person, so that they can access these in the event of an emergency. Otherwise, you may find that your much-needed holiday is interrupted by an urgent phone call.
5. Set a schedule – Though it’s far better to disconnect from emails and voicemail entirely, if you can’t do this then the next best thing is to have a rigid schedule of at what time you are going to check in with these correspondences. Make sure you stick to this schedule, and share it with colleagues so that they know when to expect a response from you. If it’s likely that you may need to sign something during this time, you can use Power PDF to sign digitally in an instant.
6. Tidy up – Finally, before you leave on your well-earned annual leave, be sure to tidy your desk and workspace (including your digital workspace), as it will be so much more pleasant to return to once the holiday is done.
If you follow these steps, you should find it easier to switch-off from the day-to-day nagging minutae of your work life, and switch on to whatever wonderful experiences can be had during your holiday. Embrace this opportunity for free time and use it to re-energise and nurture your creativity, taking the chance to observe your surroundings and the smaller details that you ignore during your working life. And when you get back, take your time to catch up with everything, refer to the list you wrote earlier, and take care not to stress over tasks, as this will undo the good done by your time off.