Out of Office

Setting Yourself Up to Enjoy Time Off

From battling burnout to making memories with loved ones, taking time off is an important part of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In fact, studies show that vacations can reduce anxiety and depression, improve physical health, and even boost productivity on the job. But when stress from the office tags along, vacations can become more of a burden than a blessing. Luckily, the tips below can help you prepare to enjoy your time off to the fullest.

Before You Leave

Prioritize Tasks: Take some time to evaluate your projects and prioritize any deadlines that would conflict with your vacation. Your to-do list may be long, but it is better to focus on things that need to be done rather than everything you want to get done. 

Plan Ahead: Establishing a plan of action is critical if you want to avoid panicked phone calls. Clearly communicating the status of any pending projects and establishing a plan for their contingency will relieve stress for you and your colleagues alike. 

Fill Everyone In: If you work closely with people outside of your organization, like clients or other stakeholders, telling them about your vacation ahead of time and letting them know who will be handling things while you’re away will help to reassure them that their projects will not be put on the back burner. In the weeks leading up to your trip, cc’ing a secondary point of contact on any emails will help keep your colleague in the know and make for a more seamless transition.

illustration of woman walking in a airport with a suitcase and luggage

While You’re Away

Set It and Forget It: It’s not easy to leave your inbox unattended, but setting an automatic email response with an out-of-office message can help put your mind at ease. Be sure to provide a secondary point of contact in the message so you can rest assured that any pressing issues can be handled without taking you out of vacation mode.

Stay Present: If you find your mind drifting back to the office, take a moment to practice deep breathing or go for a walk to help shake off any anxiety. Remember that taking this time to decompress will improve not only your personal well-being, but your motivation and job performance as well. 

Maintain Boundaries: Even the best-laid plans sometimes go awry, and you may end up getting calls, texts, or emails about workplace issues. If you absolutely must respond, focus on directives that allow your coworkers to solve the problem without you. Otherwise, simply stating that you will handle it when you’re back in the office is a courteous way to remind others that you are unavailable.

Once You’re Back

Returning to work after a vacation can be overwhelming, so it’s best to be intentional about shifting back into work mode. On day one, dedicate some time in the morning to catch up on emails and reorient yourself. It can also help to schedule a meeting for coworkers to bring you up to speed on anything that happened while you were away. Overall, easing back into the swing of things can help you maintain the boost of motivation that comes after a break.

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