Everyone claims that disconnecting from work is important when you’re on vacation. Well, I was just on a vacation where I was completely disconnected as in I had no access to internet at all—and it was not soothing. Rather, I had an internal scream going off in my head about possible emergencies and fires happening while I was away. It was anything but soothing and if I had been able to check my email even once a day, I would have felt much better. So this advice comes from a person who very much likes being connected.
And in truth, I think that it bothers family members/friends more when you refuse to disconnect on trips than it eating away at you. But obviously, we sometimes have to make compromises with family that includes not constantly working. Further, while the work we do is not life or death, it is important. Emergencies can arise that are serious and time-sensitive so maybe I’m just very controlling about my case-load, but I’d prefer to be able to manage a crisis for my case before someone else…
But ok say you really do want to get away then there are steps to take, that are surprisingly easy, that allow you to really disconnect while you’re on vacation.
Most importantly, you have to prep like crazy. Try to tie up any lose ends and make sure your notes are updated so that if a client you have spoken to in months shows up to your office someone in charge knows what to do. I like to update my to-do list with just a status update on each case as a nice reference sheet for anyone in case something happens when I’m away.
This also means you need to have a backup system. Likely, it’s your boss or an assistant if you’re fancy. Check with them to see how they’d like things organized before you leave. Do they need to know about any major issues, possible problems that may occur while you’re gone. Will someone check your mail so you don’t miss any deadlines?
Finally, in most cases you will have access to the internet and will be able to connect at least sometime during the day. This is when you really have to commit to a balance. Be upfront with whoever you’re vacationing with that you will need some time every day/every other day to check in but that you’ll limit it to an hour or two. And then be incredibly mindful to abide by that time limit.
You want to keep a light tab on what’s going on at work so that you’re not inundated with emails and emergencies upon your return, but you also don’t want to fall into a rabbit hole of participating in work email as if you’re still in your office.
Vacation is important! I always come back refreshed and ready to work, but that’s because I’ve created some distance that allows me to actually “miss” the job.
What is the best way you’ve found to disconnect from work while you’re on vacation?