I’m leaving in a week for a vacation. Exciting! And there’s a lot to do before I leave. I’ve been working with focus to ensure that my time away is as stress-free as possible – and that I don’t come back to chaos and being overwhelmed by work. That would be more painful than a lingering sunburn from my holiday.

Three things I recommend for pre-vacation to maximize calm:

  1. Plan ahead. I started thinking about my work coverage weeks before I left. I asked myself four questions: 1. What can I put off until I get back? 2. What must be done while I’m gone? 3. Who is able/available to provide coverage for those must-get-done responsibilities? 4. How can I make the work easier to manage by others? (Lucky for me, we have documented best practices for some of what I do, so that makes vacation coverage easier!)
  2. Figure out how unplugged you can be. For me, I plan to check email a few times over the week, but I won’t be following up on anything or doing any work while I’m away. I know. I know. It’s been said that in order for a vacation to BE a source of renewal, email must be ignored. Some companies go so far as to suspend their employees’ email accounts while they are on vacation. For me, however, knowing that I can do a five-minute scan a few times will alleviate any nagging worry and keep me in the relaxation zone.
  3. Use a meaningful out-of-office auto-responder. We’ve all received the no-frills version of this: “I’m out of the office this week and have limited access to email.” Michelle Gielen on HBR.com recommends letting people know the context of your trip. So my message will be, “I’m out of the office from March 29 through April 5, enjoying the last high school spring break with our youngest child. Because this is time we will never have again, I will be unplugging for the week. If you need immediate help with A, contact B. If you need Y, contact Z. Otherwise, I look forward to communicating with you when I get back.” Letting people know why you’re out of touch allows you to powerfully own work-life balance and why it’s important.

After my vacation, I will use a block of (already-scheduled) time to do a quick email scan and sort. I’ll create “urgent,” “do” and “read” labels and file accordingly. All other emails will be deleted.  This helps me focus and prioritize when I get back to work.

Do you have a tried and true tip for vacation bliss and post-holiday calm? Comment below or shoot us a message.

Photo by Hannah Jacobson on Unsplash