August 3, 2016

10 ways to switch off from work this summer

Look up the word ‘holiday’ in the Oxford dictionary and it says ‘an extended period of leisure and recreation’. Unfortunately, far too many people find it hard (or harder than they should) to enjoy that extended period of leisure and recreation. Why? Because they can’t switch off from work. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 32% of UK workers check their work email while on holiday, for example.

To help you enjoy your holiday this summer, we have come up with 10 top tips to help you switch off from work and have a proper holiday.

1. Choose your time carefully. It isn’t always possible to take a holiday exactly when you want and a lot of people are bound by school holidays. However, taking holiday at a time when work is quiet – or at least not desperately busy – means it is less likely that you will be contacted while you are away. Taking a holiday just as an important event is taking place that you have helped to organise or when a business-critical deal is at a crux point is not a good idea.
2. Be prepared. It is much easier to switch off from work if you know that you have left everything in good order. Prioritise tasks in the last couple of weeks so that you tackle the ‘have to be done tasks’ first. Any less important tasks that you run out of time to complete can either be delegated out or wait until your return.
3. Prepare colleagues and clients. Give people plenty of notice that you are going away so that they are prepared too. Where appropriate, remind them a week and a couple of days before as well. If you are waiting on something – a report for example – that really needs to be actioned on before you go, give people clear timescales. Also give them names and numbers of people who can handle queries in your absence.
4. Set up an out of office email and voicemail. That way people will know not to contact you unless absolutely necessary. Include a list of contacts that they might need in your absence.
5. Dedicated contact time. If your role is such that work might have to contact you when you are away then agree a dedicated time when you will be available to answer calls and emails. Stick to it.
6. Switch off work related social media. You are unlikely to miss much, particularly in the silly season. Anything that is really important will still find its way to you.
7. Have a work mobile and a personal mobile. Most people like to carry a mobile around with them when on holiday, but it is hard not to check what a call or alert is about, even when you know it’s probably work related. Having separate mobiles helps deal with that issue.
8. Remember, other people are capable too. Trust your colleagues to deal with work while you are away. No-one is indispensable – even you!
9. Use your absence to develop someone else’s career. Instead of letting work pile up in your absence, why not give someone the chance to step into your shoes? It could be a good career stretching period for someone eager to get on.
10. Give a good handover. Make sure that at least one person in the office knows what work is pending, what may come up and what any potential problems could be.

If you set things up well so that work can tick along in your absence, then hopefully the return from your holiday and back to work won’t be too hectic. Don’t be one of the 39% who took part in the CareerBuilder survey who wished they had not gone on holiday due to the increased workload waiting for them on their return.