Monday 18 December 2017

Plan ahead to really escape from office this holiday

Tara Dalrymple

IN this age of technology, sometimes it's almost too easy to fit in time away from the office.

However, the question remains how much quality time and physical and mental rest are you benefiting from if you are texting, researching, calling, writing and reporting with your smartphone, iPad, and laptop by your side?

Some bosses and customers are even expecting to hear from you because it is so convenient to stay in touch. This creates an unhealthy leash always tying you to work and business, and defeats the purpose of getting away for rest and relaxation. Resentment can build up among family and friends who expect you to be available for them during this dedicated vacation time.

On the other side of the fence, many feel stressed being away from the office, worry about lost business, and about how much work will be left for them when they return.

There are ways to balance restful time away and still protect you from the chaos and dread of business emergencies.

First, make sure you arrange your holiday far ahead. This allows you to schedule people, projects and finances. It gives comfort to employees and customers as well. Make sure you know your company's vacation policy upfront and check with your supervisor if you need to make any adjustments to it.

If you're the boss and have staff, make sure you have a documented vacation policy that is well communicated to make sure there are no misunderstandings. Decide how liberal you want to be when considering employees' requests, but make sure you are consistent.

On the home front, make lists of everything you will need to do before you leave so you also leave any worries behind.

For example, you can clean out the refrigerator, get utilities shut off, schedule the pets for care, and make sure a neighbour is available to watch over the house.

Be sure to schedule doctor's appointments if you need new prescriptions, and carry a first-aid kit if you will be somewhere inconvenient to reach medical care quickly.

If travelling abroad, remember passports, visas, and other paperwork may take a lot of time to process, so check online or with a travel agent/tour guide for time schedules. Also, have family meetings as you plan so everyone's wishes and needs are considered.

To lessen the amount of interruptions you receive, arrange for one person such as an assistant or colleague who understands your workload, to be a point person.

This is the only person who will have your contact information and whom you have instructed as to under what conditions you may be contacted.

If it is more reasonable for you to contact the office, leave word as to what days and times you will be contacting them so that you are not feeling pressured to answer email or make phone calls several times a day. Then stick to this schedule!

By scheduling ahead and staying firm about your contact information, you will feel in control and less guilty when you are supposed to be having fun.

Remember that you have worked hard and deserve this time off. Most situations can wait until you get back, and in the meantime you need to trust those you have trained to fill in for you.

If you will not be available at all when on holiday, it is even more imperative that you plan ahead and spread the word around (send reminders right before you leave) when you will be away and when you will return.

As soon as you know a tentative schedule, let your boss know so he/she can start planning. If possible, give yourself a day to readjust at home or acclimatise at the office.

What if a project, customer, or boss makes it difficult or impossible at the last minute to take your time off? This is when communication becomes urgent.

Discuss alternative solutions with your supervisor or customer, such as can your job be temporarily outsourced or can you accomplish your part of a project prior to leaving on holiday? Sometimes promising to designate a small amount of time to work while you are away may be enough to appease everyone.

Be honest about how important your vacation is to your supplying of high quality work and fulfilling expectations. If the work schedule just doesn't permit a long trip away, try scheduling a long weekend.

Sometimes just a few days without a ringing phone and email can reduce stress and give you what you need.

The bottom line is that we all need balance in our lives, and rest and fun must sometimes be set as priorities. Planning ahead and communicating with those who depend on you will give you the peace of mind and time to separate from business and work.

Tara Dalrymple is the founder of Busy Lizzie's -- work/life balance specialists who can help you arrange summer vacations both at home and in the workplace, as well as provide outsourcing options.

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