5 Things to Help You Unplug and Actually Enjoy Vacation

posted on August 9, 2019 | by Kelley Matney

5 Things to Help You Unplug and Actually Enjoy Vacation

Almost every professional in the United States is guilty of this.

Guilty of what you ask? Not taking advantage of their vacation days.

In Expedia’s annual ‘Vacation Deprivation’ study, in 2018, on average Americans received 14 vacation days (which is already lower than most countries globally), but they only used 10 of those days. Another shocking statistic is that over a quarter of Americans admit to ‘checking in’ regularly even while on vacation. In this more digitally connected world, it’s hard for people to truly unplug, turn their work email notifications off, and enjoy their vacation.

I myself am guilty of this. In my first job in the professional world, I would constantly check in on projects and respond to emails from the beaches of Colombia or while eating tacos in Mexico. I also found that there was never a true feeling of being relaxed and recharged because the worry and guilt about work was hanging like a dark cloud over the vacation.

In that first job I was fortunate to have a boss who truly encouraged and pushed his employees to unplug and take a true vacation from work. This was probably because he was from the United Kingdom, a country that is much better at taking time off than the US. But it was in that job that I learned a number of tips on how to effectively disconnect without making myself feel guilty about properly enjoying my vacation.

Make a plan

The best way to not stress about work while you are away is to know that everything will be covered while you are gone. Make a list of any deadlines, meetings or important tasks that will come up while you are gone. Work with your boss, your team, and your coworkers, before you leave, to make sure that every item on your list will be taken care of by someone else as much as possible

The all-important OOO message

While everyone loves a clever away message, make sure that you leave contact information for the people who will be responsible for covering for you while you are gone. I personally would not put emergency contact information in my OOO. Make one person responsible for this information – preferably someone who would know what really constitutes an emergency.

Get rid of temptations

Leave all your work devices at home. Don’t even bring a computer if you have no reason for it. I delete my Outlook app from my phone while on vacation too, so that I’m not even tempted to check my email. At the very least, turn off your push notifications so you aren’t constantly being reminded of incoming emails.

Have specific check in times

If you absolutely cannot go a whole vacation without checking in, make sure that when you do you are deliberate about it. Set a specific schedule and time limit for how long you will be doing work. If I have to check emails while on vacation I do so during breakfast and once breakfast is over, I’m done for the rest of the day.

Try to live in the moment

I know leaving work at home while you are on vacation is easier said than done. But if you try to focus on relaxing and enjoying your time away, you will be better for it when you get back. The several studies on this issue show that truly taking a break from work leads to numerous benefits in both your professional and personal life. People responded that they felt more excited to work and were more productive post vacation.

As with many things, practice makes perfect – the more you put these tips to use, the easier it will get each time. Try starting with a long weekend!

Do you check in with work while on vacation? What are your tips for unplugging so that you can genuinely enjoy your time off?