There are things employees can do on vacation to make work a little less overwhelming when they get back. In some cases, it’s best to do nothing but enjoy the time off. In other cases, it pays to schedule a limited time span each day to address work issues.
“It depends on the person and the purpose of the vacation. If you need to relax and unwind so you can come back refreshed, it’s OK to unplug,” says Carson Tate, managing partner of Working Simply, a Charlotte, N.C.-based company that helps clients improve workplace efficiency.
For some, the dread of coming back to hundreds of emails makes relaxation impossible. But being on call all the time is not a vacation. If colleagues must be able to reach you, tell them in advance the days and times you will be available to take calls. If you want to stay on top of email correspondence, schedule a limited time period and stick with it.
To minimize the work pileup, “Advance planning is key,” Tate says. “Before you leave, set up a thorough out-of-office message in your email account including contact information for a colleague whom you have prepared to cover for you.”
The computer may stay off, but your brain is a different story: It might still be at work even when you’re lying on the beach. One way to clear your mind of work worries is to carry around what web strategist and blogger Jeremiah Owyang calls an “idea freezer.” His is a ruled Moleskine notepad. “Write down any invasive work idea that comes into your head, whatever they are,” he suggests.
Above all, it’s important to prepare for relaxation, and keep all of your co-workers in check. “When you don’t set clear boundaries with yourself and others during your vacation, apart from the impact on your personal and family life, it can potentially hurt your performance at work,” Tate says.
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