Whether your dream vacation is a week on a beach or a cross-country road trip with your family, you’re probably well aware that taking intentional time off can make you more successful at work and at home.
But for many of us, just the thought of planning for a week away from the office is enough to make us want to skip the trip altogether. We worry about the hectic weeks before we leave, the frenzied calls and emails that are bound to interrupt our trip, and the pile of work we’ll have to face when we return.
Having coached thousands of leaders on how to live and lead with more intention, our coaches know how impactful a week off can be. Here are their tips to prepare for your time away so you can come back feeling energized and refreshed.
The week before I leave, I change my email signature to advise internal people of my upcoming absence. During that week, I also delegate any responsibilities or projects that need to be monitored to others in the organization, including my supervisor, because I do the same thing for them when they are away.
The day before I leave, I set up out-of-office notifications on both phone and email, with contact people listed for specific topics, including my supervisor. At the same time, I mention that I will not be responding to any messages, either email or phone.
In the hour before I leave, I create my task list for what needs to be done upon my return, and block time on my calendar for email catch up and open-door hours after my return. As I walk out the door, I try to imagine that I’m turning off the light on my work persona and leaving it on the desk.
During the vacation, depending on where we go, I try to turn off the phone and avoid connecting to email. Since my biggest challenge is always clearing my mind, I find it easier if I go somewhere that does not have easy access to the internet.
I just recently left for 9 days in Japan, and these were the steps I took to best prepare me to maximize my time away from my office:
- Deep clean my office — leave the space so well organized that any of my team members could easily find anything needed
- Drive my email inbox to zero — do, delete or delegate everything (including filing emails for future reference in folders)
- Create an “out-of-office” message for both internal and external emails I receive, setting the expectation for my response time
- Pack my personal plans (Life Plan, Business Vision, Business Plan and Priority Management Plan) for review and reflection
- Make commitments with my family to be totally present and set daily plans to maximize the time we have together
For me, the most crucial aspect is to identify what it is that I am expecting from the time off and ask myself if my expectations are realistic or not.
For example, this Christmas I will spend 6 days in one house with my siblings and their families (9 adults and 8 children; 5 of whom are under the age of 5). So, expecting that I will be relaxing on a quiet beach being able to leisurely read a book is definitely an unrealistic expectation.
Once I determine what I can expect from the time off, then I’m able to identify what preparation and planning look like.
Make the Most of Your Time Away
If you’re taking time off this season, consider taking a day to write or review your Life Plan. Our proven Life Planning process has helped thousands of leaders live and lead more proactively and intentionally.
By investing the time to create or review Life Plan, you can come back to work with your priorities in focus. Click here to download our free Life Plan and Life Plan Review Guides.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. If you’re taking time off in the coming weeks, what are you doing to prepare?