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July 18, 2012

Starting Thought: A Real Vacation

describe the imageTwo weeks ago I tried something new.  I took a vacation. And not just any vacation, but one during which I completely disconnected from email.  I didn’t check my computer, I disabled incoming emails on my phone, and I didn’t read or answer anything.  It was an email blackout.  It was hugely liberating. 

How did it happen?  

I gave myself permission—and set myself up—to step away from work, knowing if an issue arose, my team knew how to get in touch with me.  And here’s the amazing thing: they never called and there were no emergencies.

What does it take to truly disconnect?  Consider the following tips:

  1. Set an example.  The most effective leaders plan ahead and set their team up for success, so they can disconnect and recharge.  Plus, they know they’re modeling the importance of taking a true vacation for their entire staff.
  2. Adjust your mindset.  Going into your vacation, plan not to access to email, and not engage with work.  Let’s face it: If your vacation spot didn’t have email access, you’d not only survive, but you’d pretty quickly adapt and embrace your badly-needed vacation.
  3. Prepare clients and employees. Before you leave, tell people that you won’t be available (and give them alternative contacts) and that you are looking forward to a vacation to recharge.  We teach others how to treat us, and setting expectations up front will help you unplug guilt-free.
  4. Be “present” for the right people. Being present in person and through technology is important for our colleagues when we’re at work.  It’s just as important to be present for ourselves and our families when we’re on vacation. Work can wait a week.
  5. Most problems work themselves out.  Think about those times when you’re not available during working hours.  Most often, work problems get figured out without your intervention.
  6. Everyone needs time off.  It’s how we recharge, reconnect with what matters, and feel re-energized to be our best.  Don’t waste precious time by turning your vacation into a “workcation.”

If you’re thinking of the reasons why the above suggestions won’t work for you, I’d suggest you ask yourself what steps might fit that you could try.  Think about what could work for you, and would help you step away and enjoy a well-deserved vacation.

What do you need to do to ensure you get some much-needed R&R this summer?

--David Grossman


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