5 Steps to Really Vacate on Vacation

Posted on May 6, 2014.

Vacations are defined as, “a period spent AWAY from home or business in travel or recreation

And yet, most people have a hard time really getting away from everything. Since it’s almost summer, and since I just returned from a great vacation myself, it seems like a good time to try to help you vacate on your vacation.

If you follow some of these basic rules, you too can have a truly great and relaxing time off.

Step 1. Accept that you’re not indispensable.  I know this is especially hard for people that are in management or leadership positions, but get a reality check. No one is indispensible! Think about all the bosses you’ve ever had that moved on and yet, your business likely never missed a beat.  People will be able to make decisions in your absence. You just have to delegate your authority when you’re away.  You will not only have a better time while you’re gone, but you will give someone the opportunity to step up and show their own leadership potential.

Step2. Delegate a contact person on your “out of office” email.If you’re going to use this tool (and I strongly encourage it when on vacation vs. business travel), then make sure you have a name, position, phone and email address of someone who can handle a last minute emergency.  Make sure you give this person a list of people they can reach out to in your absence. Giving the okay to contact you is not acceptable. The direction should be that in a crisis, they should contact the person you’ve left in charge.

Step 3. If you must check your email, limit yourself.The great thing about my last vacation was that cell phones weren’t allowed anywhere. I followed the rules and only wished everyone else had as well.  At mealtime, at least half the room was checking their email.  These are the same people that use the “out of office” tool and then answer your email within 5 minutes anyway. If you can’t help yourself, discipline yourself to check only once a day for a very limited amount of time. And frankly, if you follow Step 1, this should not be necessary.

Step 4. Don’t act on anything. You’ve delegated someone in your absence, so you know deep down you’re not the only one with the only right answer. But once you start responding to emails, completing tasks or forwarding information, all the groundwork you laid in the first three steps was a waste of time.  If your curiosity is killing you, then okay, follow Step 3, but just read, don’t act.

Step 5. Tell everyone at work you’re going somewhere that has no wifi access.You don’t have to tell everyone where you’re going. Show them the pictures when you get back. The trick here is once you start answering emails and texts, they know you lied.  So following both Step 4 and  Step 5 should help keep the work issues at bay. I once worked with someone who would take a two week vacation every year to some fantastic place. She always made it clear that she had zero access to anything and guess what? No one tried to contact her.

According to the experts, having a complete respite from work can increase productivity from 60% to 80%. So it stands to reason that not leaving the work behind will not only decrease your productivity and engagement, but ultimately cause burn-out.  So exactly how important are you going to feel when you can no longer function in your job?