7 tips to help you disconnect from work during your vacation

4 mins | Travis O'Rourke | Article | Culture Career development Workplace Wellbeing Work-life balance General

We all look forward to vacation time off, but when we’re on it do we actually manage to disconnect from our work?

We often tell ourselves that it is important to have a good work-life balance, but, unfortunately, too often, we have a hard time ignoring email and instant message notifications, and our promise to ourselves to only check our messages end up turning into a half-day at work.

Well, how do you change this behavior? You can start by creating a self-challenge.

Challenges are actions that motivate us to improve ourselves day by day, to improve our results and to give our best. That's why we’re giving you one of the biggest challenges of the year: completely disconnecting from work while on vacation.

At first, this might seem like an easy challenge, but if you stop to think about it, it is more difficult than you think. How many of you go on vacation but end up thinking about tasks you’ve left undone or all the work you’ll need to do when you return? This summer, if you manage to overcome this challenge, you will return to work with your batteries fully recharged and ready to achieve everything you set out to do. Below are some ways to help you disconnect and enjoy your vacation to the fullest:

1. Don’t leave loose ends before you go on vacation

It will be impossible for you to disconnect if you leave incomplete work before you go. The two weeks before going on vacation should be dedicated to closing all the tasks and issues that you have pending. Try not to start new tasks if you will not be able to finish them before leaving, unless they are very urgent. You can always put tasks that are not urgent on stand-by, until your return. If you go on leave with pending issues, you will spend the holidays thinking about them and it will be much more difficult for you to disconnect and not think about your work.

2. Create a good backup plan

Many organizations currently require employees to design a backup person who can provide support in their absence. However, if your organization does not require this, take the initiative to do it on your own. Creating a good backup plan consists of making a report on the projects you are carrying out and what you cannot finish before vacation. It is also important to include the key stakeholders on each project and who needs your support or help regularly (in case you manage a team or have a lot of contact with suppliers).

Make sure to include any information that may be useful in the face of possible unexpected events. This way you will avoid any confusion in your absence or a colleague calling you in the middle of your vacation to create unnecessary worries. Your mind will be more relaxed knowing that everything is well tied and that your colleagues will be prepared to cover you during your absence.

3. Disconnect

More and more companies offer the option of teleworking and provide their employees with portable devices such as mobile phones or computers to be able to work from outside the office. If this is your case, keep in mind that holidays are not synonymous with teleworking. Leave your business laptop and mobile in a drawer and forget about them until your vacation ends and it is time to go back to work. Leave your colleagues your personal mobile phone only for emergency purposes. This point is key - if you do not take anything in your suitcase that can link you to work, your disconnection will be much less complicated.

4. Take vacation days in bulk vs. one day here and there

A good tip would be to organize your calendar at the beginning of the year, helping to ensure that you are able to get your time off approved well in advance. Whether you enjoy going on vacation in the Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter, you should take a break of a few days in a row (a week or 2). It may seem that if you take the days off more separated during the year that your vacation period lasts longer, but you actually disconnect less.

5. Don't feel guilty

We live in a society where if we're not doing anything we think we're wasting our time – this is not true. Many times, wasting time is equivalent to gaining time. Do not feel guilty if you have the feeling of "not doing anything," it is as necessary as doing things right. And, to do things well, it is important to be rested and focus on what is important in each moment.

6. Make the most of your time off

Surely there are a lot of things you would like to do during the year, but you never find the time to do them for lack of time. Make a list of all the things you want to do and take advantage of the time. If you are one of those people who cannot be on the couch "doing nothing," occupy your time with those activities that you cannot do during the year. If you keep busy doing what you love, it will be easier for you to not think about work.

7. Prioritize

Mostly, when people ask us about our priorities, we answer that they are our family and our friends but, do we really show it? For most of the year, we devote much of our weekday hours to work. So, use your vacations and your moments of disconnection from work to spend them with the people that matter the most to you.

If you have been waiting all year for the holiday period and you're worried about upcoming deadlines of important projects, we can help you.

Contact us

About this author

Travis O'Rourke
President of Hays Canada & CCO, Hays Americas

Travis is a Marketing graduate from Fanshawe College and was the 2023 recipient of their Distinguished Alumni Award. He joined Hays after holding various leadership roles elsewhere in the Canadian staffing industry. Travis setup and established Hays' outsourced talent solutions business and played an integral role in building Hays’ temporary and contract divisions throughout Canada. Initially joining Hays with a deep background in Technology, he holds extensive cross functional knowledge to provide clients with talent solutions in Financial Services, Energy, Mining, Manufacturing, Retail, and the Public Sector.

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