Hand’s up if you’ve ever sat at your desk the evening before you’re about to go on holiday, head in your hands, knee deep in “urgent” work and wondered whether getting ready for two weeks relaxation was really worth it? It can be even more difficult if you’re your own boss – taking a break can feel like an extravagance rather than a necessity. When, in fact, taking time to recharge your batteries is essential to your overall performance and will allow you to feel “human” again. So, after spending the last month or so counting down to your fortnight away, how do you make sure you truly relax before, during and after your holiday?
Before your holiday:
Banish the guilt – you’ve earned the right to go on holiday so don’t feel guilty about leaving your work behind. Be disciplined in the run-up to your holiday. Ask someone to monitor emails, hand over your current projects and remember to put your out of office on. Whenever possible try to factor your holiday into the project plan so you don’t feel you’re leaving your colleagues in the lurch. One of the main reason stress levels rise in the countdown to your holiday is because of the fear that work will fall apart without you there. In reality, you will have built momentum into your projects and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how everything will progress without you. Tell your team to ONLY contact you on your holiday if it is really urgent – ask them to call you on the phone so you don’t need to keep checking your emails.
During your holiday:
We’ve all seen them, that person on day one of their holidays, frantically trying to connect their laptop to the wi-fi as they sit by the pool “relaxing”. Recharging your batteries on holiday requires a conscious effort to switch off from your day-to-day work. So, don’t take your laptop with you and turn off your email – this will automatically restrict the amount of things you can do. Remember a vacation is about vacating your brain – lying on the beach achieving mindfulness. Get engrossed in the latest blockbuster, enjoy the feel of the sun on your face and push thoughts of work to the far recesses of your mind.
After your holiday:
Whether you’ve spent a week down in Cornwall or braved international travel, you should hopefully feel rested and relaxed as you return to your desk. However, it’s easy for stress levels to start to rise as you open your laptop and realise you have 500 new emails. A top tip to help you retain your holiday glow is not to schedule any meetings for your first day back. This will give you the time to sort through your emails – put them in a matrix of urgent vs. important and high vs. low. You will then find it easier to action what needs to be done – allowing you to prioritise the urgent tasks and delegate others.
Remember to draw on your self-control and ease yourself back into work. Don’t work until midnight clearing your desk on your first day back or you’ll end up feeling like you need another holiday. Instead, you should return to your work feeling refreshed, enthusiastic and energised and ready for the final quarter of 2021.