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disconnect from work

How To Disconnect From Work When On Vacation

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Let’s face the facts: if you love your job, it can be hard to just walk away. Do you always find yourself reaching for your phone, taking just “one last look” at Teams or your inbox when you’re on vacation? Are you constantly thinking of all the deadlines you have to get to once you’re back? Do you have FOMO over all the office meetings you’re missing out on? Then it is very likely that you aren’t truly able to disconnect from work when on vacation. And if you do that, you are not alone.

Given that so much of our working lives are now online, it can be a challenging task to completely disconnect from work before going on vacation. So if you find yourself struggling to switch off from work while on holiday, then these tips are for you! Keep reading to learn more about how you can overcome it.

Define what disconnecting looks like for you

The process of disconnecting from work looks different from person to person. Some people value their time away from the office and go completely MIA when on vacation. Others have a hard time truly disconnecting from work and like being informed of certain tasks or deadlines their team is working on.

Start by asking yourself which side of the spectrum you fall on. What do you need to do in order to feel rested on vacation? What parts of work do you need an escape from? Are there any parts of work that you feel you need to take with you? Write down everything you think of, and then take the steps needed to achieve that.

Once you know what truly disconnecting looks like for you, you’ll be able to make an appropriate plan to properly disconnect from your work when on vacation. 

Be realistic about your disconnect from work

Although it is ideal to go completely unplugged while you are on vacation and stay unattached from all work responsibilities, it’s definitely not feasible for everyone. So instead of trying to fight your need to stay connected, make sure you understand the expectations set by your company before you go on vacation.

This is why you should ask yourself the following questions: What is the minimum amount of work connectivity I can get away with? Understand your office culture and separate your colleagues’ expectations from your own anxiety. If the idea of ignoring all your work email fills you with fear, is that because you like to be in touch, or because you really could lose your job if you disconnect?

Be available by email, but only respond when absolutely necessary or in case of emergencies. Be respectful of the need to disconnect, and avoid anything that will get you into trouble with your superiors. Try to reach a compromise where both parties are happy, and work from there!

Set up your out-of-office status

Don’t let your vacation turn into a nightmare — make sure to set an out-of-office (OOO) reply before you leave!

If you’re planning a vacation, odds are you’re going to want to take a break from your inbox. Unless you want to come back to 100 emails cluttering your inbox after your trip, you can use an OOO message that lets people know you’re away from your desk.

Make sure the email contains important details like an alternate contact to reach out to in case of emergencies, the duration of your leave, and when they can expect a reply. And here’s the cherry on top: if you can’t think of an OOO message, you can use our handy tool to make one here.

Prepare your work collaboration tools accordingly

If your workplace uses team collaboration tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, you will need to spend a few minutes getting it vacation-ready before you leave. Many of these tools have handy vacation features such as the ability to set a custom status, silence all incoming notifications, set reminders for your team, and much more.

Make sure to utilize those features to ensure all work notifications are silenced, your teammates are updated on your absence and there are no communication gaps in your absence. After all, it’s much easier to disconnect from your work instead of ignoring work-related correspondence once it hits your radar after you get back.

The same goes for all or any tools you may use. Identify all accounts you’re staying away from (including email) and plan accordingly, Setting up OOO messages or alerts as you deem necessary. It’s important to get clear about how you’re going to draw the line between what counts as work and what counts as play when you’re gone. 

Prioritize having fun

Vacations are meant to recharge your batteries and give you a chance to take a break from the hectic demands of everyday life. What could be more relaxing than that? Nothing.

Understanding what you need to feel relaxed on your time off will help you have a better time away from the office. Once you break free from your schedule and let go of your daily responsibilities, make an effort to enjoy yourself on vacation. After all, vacations serve as a break from work and the stress of day-to-day life. Take your mind off of heavy work-related thoughts, and concentrate on what you have planned out of town. If you’re going somewhere new, try to immerse yourself in the environment and enjoy your surroundings.

Remember that work will be there once you get back, and while it may be tempting to stay connected, try to live in the moment!

Go completely off-grid

Finally, if you know that you’re going to have a hard time unplugging from your email should you get home after your vacation, plan a vacation where you can’t access it. If you have trouble disconnecting from work, try going somewhere without internet and cell phone service. That way you can focus on relaxing and enjoy yourself on your vacation. It’s important to immerse yourself in your vacation and make yourself comfortable by not checking your office email or by turning off your cell phone.

Think about it this way: If you find the thought of not having access to the internet scary, you might be needing it the most. It’s a win-win: your technology will stay untouched, and you’ll enjoy a proper vacation. So cut the cord, go out there, leave work mode behind, and activate vacation mode instead!

The bottom line

For you to truly disconnect from work when on vacation, it’s important you first start by setting boundaries between your work and personal life. Taking time off from work is important. You deserve a vacation where you totally disconnect from work.  Making yourself comfortable and not checking your office email or turning off your cell phone are the first steps to truly disconnecting from work. Just follow these tips, and you’ll be having the best vacation of your life in no time!