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Vacation: When Disengagement is Necessary

Imagine this: your toes in the sand, a big straw hat, and a nice breeze coming off the ocean. And then you are interrupted by that noise. What sound, you ask? The vibrations and pings coming from your phone to alert you to new messages. The next thing you know, hours have flown by, and you have been pounding out messages on a tiny keyboard while staring at a screen instead of the picturesque view in front of you. This is not paid time off. It is a work-cation. Research shows that you are not getting the full mental health benefit from time off when you are actively engaged at work.

So, what can you do to prepare to truly disengage on your next vacation?  Use these three simple steps to prepare for a technology-free and worry-free holiday.

  1. Prepare for “blast off.”
    Spend time planning and preparing so that both you and your team are comfortable while you are out of the office. Identify who can back you up on certain requests, delegate work, and share the coverage plan with your team. You may want to put in a few extra hours the week prior if you have an important deadline due the week you are chillaxing. Be reasonable – you don’t want to spend your vacation recovering from work overload because you put in twice as many hours the week before.
  2. Set parameters for true emergencies.
    The best-laid plans leave room for exceptions. Start to consider the potential situations where your team should contact you directly. 9-1-1 situations should be exceptions to the rule (i.e., your top client is canceling their contract). And let’s be clear – emergencies do not consist of items that you would like to be a part of because you fear letting go or delegating to someone else. It’s also a good idea to clarify how you prefer to be contacted in this situation. Tip: ask your team to call you so you can truly unplug and log out of email.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
    This step cannot be understated! Use your technology to help notify others that you are unavailable. Set up your email auto response and change your voicemail to reflect the appropriate contacts while you are out. Share your coverage plan with your boss and let them know you will be unplugging during your trip well in advance. Proactively let your external clients and vendors know who they should contact in your absence, so you are not forced to monitor and pass along emails.

Paid time off is a part of your benefits package. Would you reject a week of salary? No. You earned this time off. So, log out of your email and other work tools on your phone. If you are like the majority of Americans, this may feel funny. The 24/7 grind is built into a work hard culture. So, consider disconnection as an experiment and pay attention to how you feel when you return.

SOURCE: United Benefit Advisors (UBA)