Let’s talk about the struggle with holidays and absolute rest.
In the days leading up to the holidays, people slow down and do less and less or hectically finish off tasks until the last minute of work. Some of us struggle, indeed switching off during the holidays, distracted by the unfinished tasks taking up our head space. Others experience small moments of distress when an unplanned work notification shows up on their screens while trying to read a relaxing book on Kindle. Some of us even receive unexpected phone calls from our stakeholders. Finally, when we’re back in the office, a long list of notifications and to-do emails awaits us, so our first few days feel ever so tidying. By the end of our first working week, we may feel that holidays never really happened.
What if a better way to rest was possible? Could we plan for adequate time off? Whether we take a week or an afternoon off, for a successful restoration experience, we need to plan and prepare. There are many types of rest (Ted talk), and in this post, we will look at what we can do to plan better for a more successful time off work. If we use digital technologies wisely, they may even help those preparations.
What causes you stress before holidays? Plan for it!
- Inform everyone about your planned time off – it’s not enough to announce your holiday; we also need to protect the remaining time just before we leave the office, so if you are planning a few days of holidays, you will need those last few days in the office for uninterrupted time to finish things off; actively double-check with your key stakeholders if they need anything else – remind them of your time off (adding your time off to the company calendar is a must)
- Finish off essential tasks and create handover notes – do not start new, big projects or tasks; focus on finishing off as much as you can and schedule the rest for later; at Voxel Hub, we have all our work tasks and processes mapped out, so it’s easy to handover those, but you may need to leave a dedicated handover document too – the more precise it is, the less of a risk that you will be interrupted during your time off (using project management tools like Basecamp or Asana can be so helpful)
- Switch off notifications and, if needed, have a crisis plan – switch off all your app and email notifications before you leave the office because you do not want to be dealing with this as your travel or rest at home; set up your app status as “out of office” and set up clear crisis directions in our email autoresponder (that’s what email automation is for: do not forget to delegate any urgent matters to your colleagues and provide their contact details there)
What’s causing you stress during the holidays? Plan for it!
- Switch off more notifications – if you see any work-related notifications, tagging on work apps or work messages, switch off as much as you can; if you prepare and consider all work channels and apps, you don’t have to switch off your phone or delete apps off your phone (that’s very drastic and shows you are not managing your digital well-being pro-actively)
- Protect your headspace – it’s no coincidence that the leading mindfulness app is called “Headspace” – no matter how smart we are with our digital design of perfect holidays, we can still carry our work commitments in our thoughts, so we need to practice true mental switching off and relaxing our mind (there are plenty mindfulness apps on the market, however, we can start by setting a soft intention to rest and to leave work behind and as those work-related thoughts arrive, gently push them away and focus back on the here and now)
- Connect with here and now to make restful memories – practice awe and gratitude, ground yourself in your reality, and make and capture joyful, soft, light memories to nurture this stare of rest upon your return from holidays – photo and video editing apps can be fantastic for this (Relive walking app is my favourite)
What’s causing you to stress upon return from holidays? Plan for it!
- Allow yourself more time to transition back and organise your work – we need to make time for admin, for reading emails and other work messages, for organising the increased volume of incoming communication upon our return, so avoid Monday morning team meetings after a weekend away and book out enough time for orientating yourself in your workload, prioritising, reading and catching up (good planning of your calendar and a few “do not disturb” status updates may come handy)
- Protect your work and rest boundaries – you need time to get back up to speed with work, while you also need time to softly transition back to work for your restoration to last, so say no; no is a sentence – you need clarity to show up for others and to do work correctly, so don’t rush it, make and protect time for the initial orientation back at work (move Zoom invites to other dates, allow yourself at least a day or a morning of arrival to work)
- Be kind to yourself and others – be authentic and honest about your feelings; when we come back from time off, we all feel slower, softer, a little bit disorientated perhaps, and that’s okay, so be kind to yourself, take it a little bit easier, accept that you will be on 80% for a day and back to a 100% next day, instead of running on 50% all week, be kind to your mind. (plan more rest time in your calendar and maybe share your travel memories over lunch to extend the feelings connected with holiday restoration too)
Taking time off to rest from busy work requires preparation if we wish to make the most of it without interruptions or worry. Planning ahead, communicating our intent with stakeholders and using simple, intelligent digital solutions may help make our time away peaceful and joyful. We would love to hear what works for you when you plan time away from work. Let us know in the comments below.
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