Are you more stressed about going on holiday than the pile of work you have to clear before you jet off? Here are four useful tips to unwind your work before you unwind your mind.
What is a holiday? Does packing a suitcase and heading off somewhere lovely for a week count as a break, or is that just relocating your stress? A holiday should offer a physical AND a mental break but many of us really struggle to unhook our minds from work when we go away. If you want to head off this Summer without hunting down Wi-Fi in improbable places or working through the night, in order to feign relaxation by the pool the next day – take our advice on how to put your work on hold.
Make peace with peace
One of the biggest blockers to us switching off completely on holiday is the nagging feeling the office needs us. Don’t feel guilty about taking a break. A great break offers rest, creative space to think and a chance to unravel your mind. You’ll return in great shape, so it’s good for business. For freelancers, a holiday can feel like dangerous downtime when you’re losing income. Shaking this perspective requires a mind-shift and a review of your finances. When you calculate your rate, always include provision for holiday days and set this money aside on payment – then you have a clear fund allocated to headspace.
A few weeks before you go away, pave the way for your smooth departure. No business wants a holiday-shaped hole in operations, so be clear and firm in advance about what tasks need to be delegated. If you’re self-employed or freelance, inform key clients of dates; you don’t want to get landed with a big job as you’re about to step on a plane. Make sure you keep a clear diary the day before you leave to allow time to deal with the inevitable last minute jobs and enquiries.
Create a buffer
If you know you’re going to have to work while you’re away, maintain control of when you do it. Establish a single, alternative point of contact for clients, then you can relax knowing one person’s got their eye on the day-to-day and will only contact you if necessary. Offering a hotline to your attention will encourage frequent interruptions. Prepare an email out-of-office that clearly states the limited times when you will read and respond to urgent emails and record an extended absence greeting on voicemail, stating the date of your return and asking for urgent enquiries to be referred to colleagues.
Maintain the Zen
It’s amazing how quickly the benefits of two weeks in paradise can be wiped away, if you head back to chaos. Even with the best advance planning, there’s bound to be a backlog of admin and things that need your swift attention when you get back. Set aside a dedicated catch-up day, so that you’re not trying to read 100 emails and take urgent calls between meetings. My clients tell me that this ‘settling space’ allows them to enjoy every last minute of their holiday and helps their vacation vibe last a little bit longer!
Words: Alexandra Dalton