Why is it that you somehow feel more exhausted upon returning from vacation than before you left? The whole point of going on vacation is to clear your mind and unclutter your brain, yet it never seems to work that way. In a time of what might be a never-before-seen intensity in the work environment, we’ve trained our brains to never turn off. We leave work, we get home, we check our work email to make sure we didn’t miss anything after we left. An unfamiliar number pops up on your iPhone at 7 pm—could it be a west coast client? You should probably answer it.
This is the nature of business these days, but it doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. There are plenty of ways to prep for your next vacation, and we’re not talking about that to-do list next to your suitcase, reminding you to pack your toothbrush. Instead, let’s go over the other crucial prep that needs to be addressed leading up to your holiday.
A clutter-free desk does not mean a clutter-free mind. We’ve trained ourselves to believe that we need to completely clean out our desk and our inbox before heading out on vacation, but this is not always the case. Sure, a little organization is hardly a bad thing, but don’t overly stress yourself to complete everything. Figure out what has deadlines that have to be reached before leaving, the rest can wait until you get back. I would, however, recommend throwing out that half-eaten yogurt cup from last week before leaving.
Practice being free. It sounds silly, I know, but like we mentioned in the beginning of this article, we have trained ourselves to always be prepared to work. Start getting yourself vacation prepped on how to be free of your technology tethers. In the weeks leading up to your vacation set yourself some goals. For example, tell yourself you will not check any emails after you leave work. Another one it to turn off your phone 2 hours before bed. It will be weird at first, some might even call it “withdrawls,” but to fully enjoy your vacation you will have to learn to disconnect from being constantly connected.
Don’t commit to being available. You’re on vacation and you earned it! Enjoy it! It’s our natural prerogative to let everyone in the office know that you’ll have your phone nearby if they need anything. No, no, no. Commit to “staying in touch” and leave it at that.
You’re on vacation, act like it! This is where that whole intensity thing we discussed earlier comes into play. We’ve been trained to be productive and to constantly be on the move. The same goes for vacation; we have limited time, so our natural reaction is to cram as much into our vacations as possible. This might include a strict itinerary and constantly checking the time to make sure we don’t miss that snorkeling adventure. Just take a deep breath, and relax! There is no shame in spending an evening under an umbrella reading a book.
The Fourth of July is right around the corner and many of us will be enjoying it somewhere that isn’t an office. Use some of the steps listed above to maximize enjoyment and minimize stress. Work is always going to be there when you get back, and they will do just fine for a couple of days without you. Now, go and enjoy your vacation!