Approximately 40% of Americans never even touch their paid vacation time every year, so it goes unused, according to The Muse. (link to article: click). Most people are afraid of being replaced at their jobs, or having work pile up while they are gone. As a young attorney, it can be especially daunting taking vacation time since most attorneys are workaholics. For me, it felt so odd leaving for my first vacation. I definitely thought I would have projects waiting for me when I got back, or somebody would need something urgently, and wouldn’t be able to reach me. First, these fears were totally unfounded. I left for a week anyway, and came back to maybe one project. Second, with technology, I was completely accessible to all of my coworkers (not the best idea, but it definitely eased my anxiety to know that others could reach me if needed).
Before I took my second vacation, I felt much less stressed, but still read these articles for guidance: “How to Take a Stress Free Vacation From Work” (link– Click) and “Take a Vacation from Work without Feeling Guilty” (link: click.)
Finally, below are some tips for taking a stress free vacay:
(1) BOOK YOUR TIME OFF
Try to coordinate with your coworkers and or boss to figure out a good time to take a vacation. Plan ahead to make sure you’re not leaving in the middle of something important where your assistance may be needed. Finally, make sure to put it in your company calendar incase somebody needs to plan around your schedule.
(2) COMMUNICATE WITH COWORKERS
Communicate with a coworker about your vacation before you leave. it is always nice to have someone in the office who will look after your things if necessary and who you can check in with. Try to let them know when you book the time off, and then just before you leave, provide a gentle reminder. Remember to reciprocate. Also, show them where important documents are. I had a coworker I trusted enough to give him my computer password to access my files. However, this is not always recommended and some companies have policies that do not allow password sharing! So just be advised.
(3) TIE UP LOOSE ENDS
Try to finish up as much work as possible before you leave. Some project are impossible to finish, but remember they will be in the office when you return. Having your work completed before your trip is just one thing less you have to worry about.
(4) TIDY UP YOUR OFFICE
Coming back to a clean and organized office is a great way to start work again when you get home. It’s a nightmare coming back to a disheveled office, so taking ten minutes before you leave to put away files or documents really helps.
(5) SET AN “OUT OF OFFICE” MESSAGE
Be sure to leave an automated email advising others that you will be out of the office. One time I forgot to do this, but my coworker added a message while I was away. One time was enough for me, and I always remember now. It puts others on notice that your emails will be delayed. You don’t need to say why you’re out of the office. I usually just say something like: “I will be out of the office until March 21, 2017. For assistance, please contact the administrative office at xxx-xxx-xxxx.”
(6) GET OFF THE GRID AND CHILL
Finally, try to unplug as much as possible. This is your time to relax, recharge, and vacation! Take the opportunity to get off the grid as much as possible– turn off your phone, resist the urge to check emails, and take a break from social media.
Would love to hear “to-do’s” before heading out of the office in the comments below. Thanks for reading!