Struggle to switch off on holiday? How to make this summer work for you – and your team.
Sun, sea, sand, sneaky email checks and secret slacking... sound familiar?
When you're leading a business, it can be hard to take a proper break. The guilt, the worry about ongoing projects, the addiction to alerts, emails, and progress reports.
But taking the time to really switch off is vital. Fatigue and burnout are on the increase and just 'keeping an eye on things' doesn't allow us to get the mental and physical downtime we all need.
So how can we holiday, so that we come back to come rested and ready for new challenges?
Plan and prepare
It sounds obvious but prepping for leave goes beyond your OOO and handover notes. If you know everything is in safe hands, you're free to wind-down and switch off. Part of a small team? Make sure you time your break when you know the right people will be in the office to take the reins. At a critical point in a project? Don't try and hide your absence from clients, you'll struggle to switch off. Let them know who will be steering the work and why they are best placed to deliver. Worried about your workload when you're back? Map out your return, prioritise tasks, and block out your diary for key catch-ups.
Trust your team
‘Contact me if anything major happens’ – it might seem like you’re providing vital support but you could hamper their decision-making. If you can, block out the day before your break to have comprehensive catch-ups with each of your senior team. Scenario plan for any possible challenges and make sure they know you have confidence in them to deliver while you’re away. It’s natural to think we’re indispensable, but you’ve employed each member of your team for a reason. Hovering in the background while you’re on leave can make them doubt their judgement – empower them to make the right calls.
Take control of your phone
When we're struggling to step away just seeing an app or a rogue notification can be a trigger. Remove apps from your home screen, silence or even delete email accounts, it's super simple to reinstall them when you return. This goes beyond specific work apps, consider the impact of things like LinkedIn, social feeds and even news channels if you’re really focused on getting time out. If you really can’t take a total break from checking in try setting aside ten minutes a day to satisfy your curiosity and avoid endless scrolling.
Learn into rest
You've laid the foundations, now it's time for some R&R... but strange as it sounds, resting can be a battle. Research shows that it can take two days to start to really decompress so if you're able to consider taking a longer break. Struggle to go from the adrenalin of 5th gear to the chilled-out 1st gear of sun-beds and sangria? Consider a two-centre break and front load with a city visit or activities before hitting the beach or pool to really zone out. You'll feel less pressured to ‘rest’ from the off.
Write down your worries
If thoughts and worries about what’s unfolding back in the office creep in, write them down. It might sound a little counterintuitive when you’re trying to distance yourself from work, but by quickly jotting them down it's easier to rationalise and park them for when you return.
Rest your way
There are voracious readers who love nothing more than the escapism of novels. People who find mindfulness in losing themselves in nature or the repetitive activity of kayaking or cycling. And those who find immersing themselves in a different culture the ultimate brain holiday. There's no right or wrong way to 'rest'. Do what works for you. But remember that doing nothing is perfectly valid and a bit of a forgotten art – try to make time to embrace dead space and just be. And if that’s a bit of a battle, try an old-fashioned nap…