You’re pool-side, slathering sunscreen on a kid who just wants to get into the water, and that slack ping on your phone tickles your ears. Resentment, guilt, insecurity all flood your chest. What should you do?
Here’s the goal: Stop shoulding on yourself.
So I’m not gonna tell you what you should do. But I am going to offer you three ways to drop the guilt, release what’s happening at work, and get real rest on vacation.
I will get up on a tiny soapbox before the tactics:
Your paid time off is part of your compensation package. Rest makes you more productive. Rest makes you more whole. Rest is a weapon.
Rest is a weapon.
Researcher Mark Rosekind studied vacation takers and found the respite effect of a vacation can increase performance by 80%. Reaction times of returning vacationers increased 40%. You will literally be a high-performer by taking a time to rest and disconnect.
Ok, Jenn, but how do I do this? You are not alone! Making this actually happen is the hard part. The tactics themselves, but also the cultural pressures to work all the time. I mean, have you sent or read the Slack: “I’m on PTO next week. So I’m only checking email in the afternoon or text me!”
Bravely set the example for your team by following these steps.
Three Steps To Rest on PTO
You’ve got to prioritize your work. Not everything must be done by you or before you go. My favorite way to do this is post-it notes. Just write one item on each post-it. Move the post-its into three categories:
✅Must be finished before I leave
✅Can be delegated before and while I’m gone
✅Can wait until I return.
Now you have your prep list and your list for when you return.
PRO TIP: Block your calendar for your first day back for at least part of the day so you can get to your priorities!
Begin telling people you’re going to be gone about a month before. Slack channel heads up, client standing meeting, email to your team. Then begin asking and delegating those post-it tasks you did up in step one.
A week before, remind people again you’re leaving and will not be available. Ask for any requests by the day before your last work day.
Create an out-of-office reply that communicates
a) When you’re gone and won’t respond.
b) Who to contact if it’s urgent.
c) When you will respond when you return.
PRO TIP: Turn on your out-of-office your last afternoon in the office. Another reminder to people you’re leaving and setting expectations that you won’t be around!
Ok, this is the hard one. Might I suggest you leave that computer at home? If you need a way to play movies for the kids, is there another device you can bring? You can get creative here!
Now, if you’re like me, your only camera is your phone. (And that phone is also your music, your audiobook, and the map that takes you to your VRBO!). SO yeah…that’s coming with you.
But!! There are ways to help you have all the stuff you need on vacation without all the work stuff you don’t. You can turn off your email. It’s a simple toggle button in settings that will remove email from your phone but not have to log back in when you want it back on. Turn off notifications for other work apps.
PRO TIP: Move all your work apps several screens back, so you’re not tempted to check. Yes that means Slack, Teams, Zoom, Outlook, Even better remove the app while you’re gone!
Ok, so deep breath… How ya doing? Do these three steps to help you rest bring you panic or peace?
Leadership begins with leading yourself.
When you commit to rest, you’re not only more productive, but you model for your team what healthy boundaries are. This decreases unnecessary conflict and increases belonging. And you! You, my friend, feel empowered and peaceful.
How does this sound to you? What are your other tactics for making sure you stop shoulding on yourself — about work or your family — and actually rest poolside?
I know for me this was a process that required some training, practice, and accountability. I’d love to help you and your team as a speaker and a coach. Contact me here (and checkout my burnout topic.)