Sounds a bit crazy, doesn't it? I mean, we go on holiday to relax, don't we? Why would we take time out of our busy schedule and pay to go on holiday if we're only going to spend that time working the same way as we would be if we were at home? I'd love to give you the ideal answer as to how you can take work on holiday with you ("just don't"), but in this day and age, things are not quite so blissfully simple. In many aspects of our lives, we're all used to everything being near instant. If the desired result of an action doesn't come instantaneously, we send ourselves into a spiral of frustration. Unfortunately, if you work for yourself or manage a team of people, work just doesn't quite stop for long enough. I know a lot of you readers are managers, journalists, writers or creative entrepreneurs, so I wanted to share with you some tips I have for keeping a happy medium between work and play, allowing you to have peace of mind that work is being taken care of and you've got the time to rest and recuperate.
This is the very first step. The week before you go on holiday is nearly always full of stress and frayed nerves somewhere down the line. You've got to make sure the house is clean upon your return, ensure the neighbours have been given the leftover contents of your fridge, pack your clothes (and anyone else's you might be responsible for) and somehow balance your sanity between your work and personal life.
Forget the manic week before. Start preparing for your trip further in advance, as far in advance as is comfortable and manageable for you. Bring forward any scheduled tasks so you have more time to complete them and prepare social media posts in advance using a scheduling software. Not only does this keep you in check with your lengthening to-do list, but you'll have more time to think about and get excited for your holiday!
Set Your Auto-reply Message
You might not see the auto-reply message leave your office computer but it sure is satisfying to set it, right? The 'I am currently out of the office until...' auto-respond feature brings you the comfort that you're having a break and you don't have to feel guilty about it. If you are checking your emails periodically (see below) this feature also means you can get away with not replying straight away!
Check Your Emails at a Set Time of Day
As above, if you do need to check your emails from time-to-time, try to get into a miniature habit throughout your holiday of only going through them at a certain time. I credit my dad for this, who, to this day, only switches his phone on in late afternoons before he is ready for dinner. Granted, he's not so plugged into virtual reality as the average person, but he's doing it right ignoring text messages and phone calls until he checks in later on in the day. By setting time aside to catch up with work-related messages when you're not especially 'busy', you know, like sunbathing or anything, you're managing your workload as you would be doing at your job i.e. using work hours to work and play hours to play. Half an hour responding to messages in the late afternoon, if you really must, ensures that you don't waste precious sun lounger or adventure time.
Silence Your Notifications
If you're a social media whizz with notifications entering your feed left, right and centre, you might want to cull the notifications down while you're on holiday. Remember you're really on holiday to take some time off, so temporarily silence the unnecessary (or particularly irritating) notifications to slow down and take away the temptation to look at, and become glued to, your phone. Whether you work in retail or banking, think about muting the group Whatsapp for a bit and switch it on later to bring yourself up to date with the latest gossip. You'll also be able to give yourself a break from thinking about work when you really should be spacing out and enjoying the peace and quiet.
Carry a Notebook and Pen With You
Here's a tip especially for the creative, the innovative and the in-need-of-constant-reminders type of people out there. Ever get ideas or important to-dos coming to you in the middle of the night or in the most inconvenient of places, like on an excursion to a site of religious value where you should be listening to the tour guide rather than fumbling for your phone? Keep a notebook and pen with you at all times to make sure you can get your brain dumps out in the open before they disappear into the black hole abyss of lost thoughts. This way, if you're in the middle of a tour of a temple where it would be rude and inappropriate to take out your phone, just whip out your notebook instead. The best thing about it is that everyone will assume your taking notes. If they ask, tell them you're a creative, innovative and in-need-of-constant-reminders person. If it's absolutely necessary that you have to carry a notebook with you, you won't be straying too far from the truth. At all.
We might all love, or be addicted to, our electronic devices, and maybe even our fast-paced careers, but you will be surprised by how much more rested you will feel knowing you have successfully prepared yourself for a week or twos' rest with work kept to a happy minimum. Giving ourselves the opportunity to recharge is so important for our mind and body to feel sharp and reinvigorated, so holidays are, primarily, about rest. But in a world where interconnectivity seems to matter above everything else, it can be difficult to completely switch off and unplug. If this is the case for you, try out these tips and do whatever else works for you to keep both your work and your mind afloat...and at a comfortable distance.
What do you do in order to keep your personal and professional life balanced while on holiday? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.