Every moment in my house is an opportunity for it to add to my already jam-packed to-do list. The demands are relentless. And now that I’ve been working from my home for over a year, everything about being here feels heavy and burdensome.
I’m not alone in desperately needing a vacation. Pre-pandemic, 55% of Americans were willingly forfeiting some portion of their vacation days annually. And as of last July, according to a survey by IPX1031, only 20% of respondents were even planning a vacation. Now that widespread vaccinations are reopening the world around us, it’s time to get serious about refilling our personal tanks.
Booking the trip is way less than half the battle. Because we’re now experts at working from anywhere, we’re even more susceptible to mixing business with pleasure. Here are three reasons why you should fully check-out from work on your vacation:
- Your brain needs a break. Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to form new pathways and enhance its own resilience. Rest is critical for regeneration, as is novelty. Doing the same thing over and over, day after day, diminishes your cognitive capacity. By contrast, physical activity and novelty strengthen your brain. When you truly allow yourself to vacate during vacation, you give your brain a chance to recharge.
- A change of scenery sparks creativity. One important element of innovation is connecting disparate ideas or objects to create something entirely new. Unless you moved last week, you have seen everything in your home thousands of times. I am bored just thinking about it. Immersing yourself in new places, cultures, and customs provides great stimulus for new ideas. Even if you’re not ready to leave the country, there are many different cultures between cities, states, and coasts!
- Your team needs a chance to spread their wings. When managers fully delegate and step away, they are frequently amazed by the competence that emerges. While our egos love to believe that we are indispensable, it’s just a self-serving myth. See your vacation as an opportunity for your team to build their confidence and to demonstrate how capable they are. It’s a gift to you and a gift to them.
How to pull the plug
There are a number of proven strategies for stepping away from the computer (and cell phone and iPad and all of it):
- A few weeks before your scheduled vacation, determine what you can complete prior to your departure, what needs to be delegated to others, and what you can handle upon your return.
- Ask key members of your team to write you a “while you were away” note so that you can quickly catch up on what has occurred when you return.
- Set expectations with your cross-functional colleagues and team that you will be entirely disconnected during your trip.
- Establish an “emergencies only” protocol for reaching you and communicate clearly what constitutes an emergency.
Remember that as a manager, you are signaling appropriate behavior to your team. If you don’t disconnect on your vacation, they won’t have permission to either. If you want to be your highest performing self, recognize the value of recovery and make it happen.
For more tips on setting yourself and your team up for success on vacation, check out our 2021 Vacation Guide.