Whether you love or hate your job there is one thing to remember; vacations are valuable. Time away from work is not only important but it is essential. Everyone deserves time away from their desk to reconnect with themselves as well as their loving families and friends. When you don’t take a vacation you inevitably become burnt out and start slacking. You might not intend for this to happen but when we aren’t taking time to rejuvenate ourselves we’re going to stop doing our job as well as we normally do. Every job entails focusing on other people in one way or another, which means we’re not necessarily remembering to focus on ourselves. Most people have nights and weekends to focus on themselves but there’s so much that needs to get done during those times. Working out, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, helping kids with homework, running errands, and attending to obligations with friends or families are all examples of what gets done during our “off” times. Even though we enjoy doing these things it still means we’re kept on our toes most of the time.
A vacation is time where we choose what we want to do and who we want to spend our time with. While visiting a foreign country or a far away island are wonderful ideas for vacations they are not your only options. A vacation does not have to include a hotel stay or an airplane ride. You can stay at home while you take necessary time away from work and explore new sights and adventures in a nearby city, your hometown, or even your own backyard. What’s most important is that your vacation is spent doing something you enjoy while being fully away from work.
We live in a society where we are constantly connected. Our phones provide us with maps, music, cameras, games, internet, and email access to our multiple email accounts. Let’s not forget we can also make calls and listen to voice mail. While being connected has many advantages one major disadvantage is that it makes it even harder for people to take time away from work. Since technology allows us to be so accessible people have learned to expect us to be available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Many people allow for this way of living and they have the right to make that choice. Even if you’re one of those people I’m here to tell you that you should still take time away from work. Everyone needs time off from work for his or her own mental health and well-being. When I say vacations are necessary what I really mean to say is that unplugging is mandatory.
I will be the first to admit that it is not always easy to step away from work once you’ve left the office. In order for vacations to rejuvenate you it’s important to plan ahead. Decide as far in advance as you can when you will take this much needed rest time. If you are suddenly realizing that you have not had three days off in a row in a year you are certainly long overdue for time away. If you just returned to your desk from a week away you might need some time to pass before you’re asking your boss for another week off. Think about the months or even year ahead and what you have going on both in terms of work and your personal life. If you know you have a destination wedding to attend in September planning a trip in August might not be the best idea but if your calendar is free from obligations, whether fun or unpleasant ones, think about where you want to go, who you want to go with, and what time of year you want to go and start planning away. You probably know when work is at it’s busiest and at it’s slowest so take that into consideration as well. Once you’ve picked your dates and cleared it with any necessary people it’s time to think about the details related to work. While vacation is wonderful getting to the time off can be overwhelming. It’s important to plan for your time away as much as possible. Think about who you trust to be your number one backup person and then check that person is available and will know how to help people in your absence. Once you’ve done that you should give everyone ample notice, as vacation time gets closer, that you’re going away. When you tell people immediately let them know who can help them while you’re unavailable. As time gets closer finish up any loose ends that you can and fill your backup in on where all your projects are and what he or she needs to do while you’re gone. Sometimes that person does not need to do anything other than be there in case someone needs immediate assistance. On your last day of work be sure to set up your out of office auto reply and change your voicemail to reflect the days you are out of the office. Both your email and voicemail should indicate the name and number of the person covering for you. As you leave your desk look around and make sure you have whatever personal things you need and then don’t look back.
I think a real vacation means you unplug so actually unplug. You do not have to be accessible anymore. If it is easy to do this delete your work mailbox from your phone and other devices while you escape for a few days. You can always add the mailbox again once you’re back. Let’s face it, if the email can easily be checked work is still with you in some way or another. It is time to let go. You must separate from work once you are away, it’s the only way for you to fully refresh and focus on yourself. Clear your mind from any work related stress or thoughts. I know it may not be easy but with practice it gets easier. Every time a work thought pops in your head remind yourself that you do not have to worry about things working out because you have somebody you trust covering for you. Remind yourself that you deserve and need this vacation. Taking time for yourself is only going to make you better at your job to help others. Many people feel guilty about leaving work. We want to believe that people cannot go on without us and that we are indispensible. The truth is that even when we are amazing at our job people can and will survive without us. However, we cannot survive without time off.