The vacation period is such a wonderful time. You get to visit places you always wanted to go to. You manage to visit relatives whom you might not have seen for the entire year. And you get to enjoy the sun. Well, at least in some places.
And yet, there’s always a little bit of stress associated with vacation. I’m sure you’re familiar with this experience: You’re taking three weeks of vacation, it takes you one week to actually detach from work, you enjoy vacation for one week (or a bit more) and then you already start worrying about getting back to work.
Here are three thoughts that hopefully will help you, and ease the transition to vacation, and way back to work.
- Feel good about taking vacation. Get rid of any feeling of guilt. Own your vacation. It’s yours. You deserve it. You need it.
- In order to detach from work easier at the beginning of the vacation,
- make people understand the “why” behind your delegation. It will improve the chances that things get done during your absence and you don’t need to micro-manage.
- find ways to do things during your vacation that fully occupy your mind and do not let it think of work.
- To efficiently get back to work after your vacation, create an understanding of what needs to be done in the very first 1-2 days. Be clear about the people you need to interact with, and the two or three key deliverables and activities that you need to be doing, when you hit the desk back from vacation.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT AND QUOTES:
Hi everybody. It’s vacation tiiiime!
Are you looking forward to your vacation? Yeah, me too. It’s such a wonderful time. You get to visit places you always wanted to go to. You manage to visit relatives whom you might not have seen for the entire year. And you get to enjoy the sun. Well, at least in some places.
And yet, there’s always a little bit of stress associated with vacation. I’m sure you’re familiar with this experience: You’re taking three weeks of vacation, it takes you one week to actually detach from work, you enjoy vacation for one week, or one week and a bit, and then you already start worrying about getting back to work.
Just at the right time for vacation, I wanted to share with you a couple of thoughts that hopefully will help you, and hopefully will ease a little bit the transition to vacation, and way back to work.
Thought number one: Get rid of your feeling of guilt.
You deserve your vacation! It’s amazing how many people actually feel guilty about taking vacation. And they end up not taking vacation at all, or just a few days here and there, bits and pieces. I don’t get it. It’s not only that you deserve your vacation, you truly need it. I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new here. But you know that it’s not the pressure and the stress at work that is harming us, and is “killing” us. It is the lack of recovery. It’s the lack of recovery that is allowing the stress, and the pain to become continuous, allowing it to do all the harm that it does.
It’s the same thing (a very familiar example) when you go to the gym, trying to build your muscles, when you push your muscles to the limit, putting the pressure, that is needed in order for the muscle to grow. The growth happens in the recovery phase; it happens during the resting.
Please be aware of this, and never ever doubt the need for vacation. Take your vacation, you deserve it, you need it. Enjoy it.
Thought number two: Prepare well in order to detach more easily in the beginning of your vacation.
At least one of the reasons why I think we have these difficulties in detaching from work at the beginning of the vacation, is because we have these nagging feelings whether we kicked off the right things, whether we informed the right people, whether we trained others enough, so that things happen in our absence. Which is a bit of a paradox, because we put so much effort the week before vacation. Boy, the week before vacation is the most productive week ever. I can speak at least from my experience, but the week before vacation…I’ve never been any more productive than in the week before vacation.
Why is it like this?
It is because we have a very specific goal. The goal is, “I don’t want to come back and have all these things on my table that need to be done.” It’s a very single-minded goal. It’s clearly visualized. You SEE how it will look like when all these things are on your table. And you have even an emotion attached to it. You know how it will FEEL when you come back, and you have all these things that need to be dealt with.
So, you do all this effort before, you put so much energy in preparing well, and still, things don’t move forward as you might have wished for, during your absence.
Why is this happening? And what can you do about it? Here’s what I suggest to you.
During this period of time, this period of the summer time where people are in a different mood and do not have their minds particularly at work, put a little bit more emphasis on the “why”. Explain with a little bit more enthusiasm why these things that you delegate to people need to be done during your absence. And what impact this would have if they get these things done during your absence.
Your goal should always be that people don’t need to come back to you. And your goal should be also that you don’t have that feeling that you need to get back to them. Prepare in a way that will make this negative feeling not come up during your vacation time. Nobody likes to get dumped on things where he doesn’t understand the proper context. Put a little bit more context and the emphasis on the “why”.
Another way to detach more easily in vacation, besides preparing well in advance in order to allow people to actually do the work, is to find something to focus on, something to occupy the focus of your mind. I will give you an example what I mean by that. Have you ever been on a ski winter vacation, you know, where we normally take two, three, four days, maximum a week to hit the slopes. There is no time for us to think about anything else. Our mind is fully occupied and we are engaged and involved directly in this activity. We don’t have any difficulty in fact to detach from work.
That’s what I suggest to you for your more extended period of summer vacation as well. Because, if you go on vacation and you take a week at your relatives, then you take a few days off on the seaside, or maybe on the mountain side, then you come back and visit other relatives for another week. Then, of course, you give your mind the opportunity to wander off, and think about things it shouldn’t be thinking of. Find activities that occupy your mind, because you and I both know: we can do multiple things at the same time, but we cannot focus on multiple things at the same time. Leverage that, trick your mind. And do things that actually will need all the attention of your mind and all its focus, so that it doesn’t go off and think of work.
Thought number three: Getting back to work more easily, and not worrying about getting back to work. Be more efficient getting back to work.
Now the reason why we worry about getting back to work is because we know there’s going to be a lot of distractions. We fear already all the emails that are going to be in our inbox, waiting for us to be dealt with. And we know that there’s going to be a lot of people we need to talk to when getting back from vacation.
What I suggest here that you do, in order to avoid this stressful thinking and feel more at ease, is to prepare upfront in a way that will give you an understanding what needs to be done first.
One thing that helped me very much was instead of worrying for a couple of days at the end of the vacation, make a contract with yourself upfront where you define that the Sunday before going to work, or the Saturday, or the Friday, whatever day suits you well, that you’re going to set aside two hours, where you go through your list.
You create an overview of the things that you need to be dealing with as soon as you hit the workplace, as soon as you hit the desk. I found it very helpful that the first day, or the first two days when you come back to work, you actually know exactly what you need to be doing. These will be the key activities or the key deliverables you want to be focusing on. And these are the key people you need to follow up with, related to the things that you delegated before going on vacation.
When you scan through your emails during the vacation, if you take that time, you can generate a top line overview. It’s not about responding or doing those things; it’s about creating the overview and being very specific and clear on those things that you need to be doing first.
Because when you do this, coming to work will allow you to focus, and not do anything else but those activities. It will give you small wins. It will give you the opportunity to move things forward. And you will feel much more comfortable having done it this way.
It is really a bad habit to wait with managing your emails until the day you come back to work, as it will distract you from tackling the important things first, those things that you’ve been working so hard to kick off before the vacation.
This way you will also have the time needed to engage and socialize with your colleagues, to share your wonderful vacation experiences. And allow them to share theirs. Because this is what it is about. It’s about getting together and sharing all these great experiences that we had during vacation, during this wonderful, wonderful time.
These were the three thoughts.
Number one, own your vacation. Get rid of the feeling of guilt. It’s yours, you deserve it. You need vacation. Please feel good about it.
Number two was to prepare well. Prepare well by making people understand the “why” behind your delegation. And by also finding ways to do things during your vacation that occupy your mind to not letting it think of things at work.
And number three was to create a very clear understanding of what needs to be done in the very first one or two days. To very precisely understand the people, you need to interact with, and the two, three key deliverables and activities that you need to be doing, when you hit the desk back from vacation.
I hope this was helpful. It was for me in the past at least, so I hope it served you. I’m wishing you really a great time and a relaxing break during your vacation period. Until the next post, have a great, great time.