By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars
The holidays can be a hectic time – between seeing family, shopping for presents and keeping up with work, it can be a lot to juggle. While many consider December a “slow” work month, somehow many Americans still manage to feel overwhelmed or distracted by work during this time of the year.
Although the majority of employers offer paid time off (PTO), stats show that forty-one percent of Americans do not use their PTO – that’s almost half the workforce! So why should you use up all those valuable vacation days? According to the American Psychological Association, vacations help reduce stress by removing people from activities and environments that are typically sources of stress and anxiety.
Many companies have enacted protocols that encourage employees to actually unplug when they are on vacation. The Huffington Post, for example, created their very own Vacation Tool that gives employees the ability to not receive any emails in their inbox while they are out (since the majority of people fess up to still checking email on their phones, tablets, or laptops while OOO). Instead, the emails are stored elsewhere and sent to the employees’ inboxes post vacation…genius!
Whether or not your company offers special programs and processes to help you take that precious PTO, check out our tips on how to actually unplug and recharge during your holiday vacation.
- Find A New Travel Destination that Excites You
While staycations are more and more popular, actually leaving your city, state, or country for vacation can help inspire you to unplug. Part of going on vacation is finding the right destination. Instead of settling for the same place you’ve already traveled to, try choosing somewhere new that will allow you to explore.
Not only should vacation be a time for relaxation, but it should also be a source of inspiration. So many wonderful ideas have stemmed from vacation – for example, Instagram filters were inspired during the founder’s walk on the beach while visiting Mexico.
If you want to go on a trip where you can truly unplug and be guilt-free, go to a place that will inspire you, even once you’ve returned back to office life.
- Plan in Advance
How many times do we return from vacation and head to work the next day? Instead of booking the latest return flight possible, give yourself at least a day (or two) to stay home and catch up on errands you’ve missed without the interruptions one can face in the office. If for some reason you can’t nab that extra day, at the very least, try to avoid scheduling meetings or early morning deadlines on your first day back.
Another important aspect of effectively planning before a big trip is ensuring you’ve wrapped up any loose ends before heading out of the office. By setting deadlines for yourself and putting together a detailed to-do list, you’ll be able to check off all of the to-dos on your list.
Another great planning tip is designating a point person who can handle any tasks or emergencies that may arise while you’re out of the office – it’s best to find a colleague or someone on your leadership team who is familiar with your clients and day-to-day activities.
- Turn On Your Out-of-Office (OOO) Response For Your Entire Vacation
Not only does an out-of-office response help relieve some personal stress of worrying whether or not to respond to emails, these automated messages also let the recipient know that they aren’t being ignored. When crafted well, they direct the email sender to the appropriate point person, so you don’t have to worry about it.
If you struggle with drafting the perfect auto response (like most of us), check out this guide on writing the perfect OOO from The Guardian.
If you are one of those people who can’t pull yourself away from emails longer than a few days, try setting aside a small window of time (30 minutes max) or a few smaller windows throughout the day (such as 10 minutes during the morning, afternoon, and evening) to catch up on anything that you feel needs to be responded to or directed.
- Steer Clear of Technology All Together
Vacations are the perfect time to give yourself a brain break from staring at bright blue screens all day. The more technology you have around you, the more likely you are to end up jumping on Facebook or scrolling through missed emails.
Too much screen time effects your body in more ways than one, including causing increased eye strain. Taking a technology break doesn’t just mean work technology, but all technology. Step away from checking social media on your iPad and bring a paperback book (instead of the Kindle) for that perfect vacation read. You’ll likely find your stress melting away with every minute away from tech.
As you head into this holiday season, consider that this may be the perfect time to use some of that lingering PTO. Be sure to try some of our helpful tips for actually relaxing while you’re out of the office. If you don’t have days left or it’s just too busy of a season, at least make the effort to completely unplug on those few days you get off for Christmas, New Year’s or any other company holiday. Cheers to the New Year!