Summer vacation time is here! Are you ready to leave work behind to enjoy time away with your family and friends? Vacations are key to my productivity; I return to work recharged and ready to go. Working while on vacation is an easy trap and sometimes expected, but is that why you take time off?
time the highest
I've implemented my 7 Habits of Highly Effective Vacationing to ensure work does not overtake vacation. The 7 Habits involve my approach to work before, during and after vacations. I am invigorated by the freedom the 7 Habits provides and enjoy our family time together to the fullest.
Habit #1: Put Family First. Make family time your highest priority. My family won’t care about work that draws me away. They will remember the conversations, meals together, side trips, hugs and high fives we share. The result is I am present; our teenagers look forward to our family vacations and plan to enjoy the same with their future families.
Habit #2: Get More Sleep. Beginning several weeks before vacation, I work at getting extra sleep. My goal before vacations is to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. The result is that I’m rested and able to fully enjoy vacation.
Habit #3: Avoid Deadlines. Pick a time that is not close to company year ends, budget cycles etc. Avoid scheduling deadlines on either side of a vacation. The result is little hangs over my head while vacationing; I am not compelled to “check in” and my coworkers don't expect me to be available.
Habit #4: Schedule Wisely. Minimize the number of pre-vacation week meetings to ensure adequate time to work and leave behind no loose ends. There is no unfinished business I feel obligated to finish. The result is a less stressful pre-vacation week and preparation time for returning.
It’s not too late
a habit or two
Habit #5: Resist Voicemail. Do not check your voicemail unless a high priority contact calls (boss, key coworkers and key partners only). My voicemail message indicates I return calls following time off. If a message is urgent, I take care of the interruption quickly, being careful not to interrupt or delay family activities. The result is I don’t get “new work” during vacations with artificial deadlines.
Habit #6: Skim Emails. Skim email late at night or early mornings to weed out messages not requiring attention. Anything needing a response is simply marked unread. The result is that messages are easily managed upon returning. Plus, I’ve mentally prioritized those requiring “immediate attention”; I get back to Inbox Zero in short order.
Habit #7: Plan for Recovery. Schedule few meetings the first week back from vacation. I block out my calendar to talk with colleagues, return voice mails, handle emails, and prepare for meetings. The result is I am not juggling commitments, working into the evenings or feeling overwhelmed post-vacation. This simple habit has reduced the stress of returning from vacation immensely.
Bonus Habit: We have someone stay in our home, whether for 1 or 14 nights every time we leave town. With our social media active family, our absence is clear. Having someone we trust taking care of our home and pets puts our minds at ease. Their family enjoys our home and pool; picks up our mail and ensures the generator is running in case of any power outages. The result is peace of mind.
Some of the 7 Habits may be obvious or seem difficult to attempt. Choose just one or two habits, experiment and enjoy the payoff. Implement another habit before your next vacation and so on. It’s not too late to start implementing the 7 Habits for this year.
I’m interested in other habits and strategies you use to maintain balance while vacationing. A positive habit can make a big difference in the balance we experience integrating work and family. Please share what works for you!
This post was adapted for summer vacationing from a December Holidays post: Holidays and Work: Maintaining Balance.