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In today’s world, where being busy is considered a step to becoming a millionaire, taking time off may seem offensive. About 40% of Americans decline paid vacations every year with the fear of being replaced while on vacation. These irrational fears may be understandable, but taking a break will boost your productivity and make you happier and engaged.
The following tips will allow you to enjoy your vacation without guilt:
- Focus on your fun activities.
- Talk to yourself.
- Determine that you deserve the vacation.
- Disconnect or at least minimize work emails.
- Use the vacation to learn something new.
- Plan in advance.
- Inform your colleagues about your vacation.
- Set an autoresponder.
- Set an hour to deal with work.
- Keep remembering why you needed a vacation.
- Choose your ideal vacation.
- Buffer work exits and re-entries.
- Balance your vacation activities.
However, even with overwhelming reasons for needing a vacation, getting rid of that guilt is not easy. Here are several tips for using when you feel that tingling of uneasiness creeping in.
1. Focus On Your Fun Activities
Whenever you feel like you are over-stressed and can’t give any more than what you have been, it might mean that you are giving from an empty cup. Therefore, you might want to think about taking time away so that you can refill your cup.
Thus, viewing your vacation as a time to recharge will not only take away the guilt but also multiply your output at work and in your family. So rather than focus on what you “should” be doing, focus on what you are doing and how much fun you will have or are having on your vacation.
Being fully present in whatever you are doing while on your vacation builds more joy and happiness for family and work when you get back. Also, it will ensure you fully relax and enjoy your downtime.
You can have a journal to write down all your vacation activities to avoid forgetting any or having idle time. Ensuring you are occupied every minute will leave no time to think of what you left behind.
2. Talk to Yourself
To prevent the guilt from catching up with you, you may ask yourself how the vacation will make you a better person.
Vacation vastly helps with stress management which is mainly brought by pressure from work. Also, vacation time might be when you get to think of how to handle work stress. Tell yourself that your subsequent assignments and tasks will be better and more impressive after the break.
Additionally, don’t fret about missing important announcements or getting fired.
Remember that you will be notified if you are urgently needed at work to keep that anxious rush from creeping into you. Memorize the benefits of the vacation and work on achieving them.
3. Determine That You Deserve the Vacation
Guilt is sometimes brought by feeling we don’t deserve what we give ourselves. Thus, determining that you earned the vacation before planning for it helps you take the guilt away. If you honestly think you deserve the break, no matter what other people’s view is, you will have a fun time on your vacation.
If you feel a little guilty, you may need to put in extra hard work before planning for that relaxation time.
Also, simply because you deserve a vacation doesn’t mean you overspend. Choose a vacation that will not give you the guilt of spending much after. You can also opt for staycations which costs nothing if your work doesn’t pay for a vacation.
All you need is time to relax and off work, not build stress and guilt.
4. Disconnect or at Least Minimize Work Emails
Monitoring your work emails will only increase your off-work guilt, otherwise, your vacation will be less fun and productive.
Also, before leaving for your vacation, make sure you have covered all your bases to prevent disturbance from crucial emails. This will ensure you don’t turn your vacation into another workstation.
5. Use the Vacation To Learn Something New
To some, a vacation may feel like a waste of time. However, you can make the vacation time more productive by learning a new skill for your professional growth. For example, you can read a professional development book or a trade magazine.
Also, you can engage in professional or team-building activities while on your vacation.
6. Plan in Advance
The time meant for vacation is mainly consumed by vacation preparations.
A survey conducted on more than 1,000 US adults concludes that the majority of the respondents experienced more stress in trying to finish a task on time. Starting early will also let you explore a variety of options and take advantage of offers and discounts.
Organizing your vacation early in advance will aid you in relaxing fully and ensuring everything goes smoothly. Make sure you make all bookings on time and plan for your work to be handled while you are away if necessary.
Additionally, ensure everything concerning you is attended to before leaving for your vacation to avoid unnecessary disturbances while relaxing.
Moreover, you may choose a colleague you trust to handle your day-to-day work for your pressing office work, which will ensure you are at peace while on vacation. Also, you may choose to do extra work before you leave. An extra hour a day at work in exchange for two weeks off work is worth it.
Nevertheless, make sure you speak your expectations to all your regular contacts to eliminate possible confusion or chances of leaving some tasks unattended. Also, before the day you go, it’s helpful to send the last email recapping all your expectations to the relevant people and any other information they may need.
Another tip on planning early for your vacation is choosing the right time to break. The best time for vacation is when you have no deadlines to meet or when you are less busy. Having a short to-do list creates more time for having fun.
Also, an early planned vacation is more likely to happen than a late one.
7. Inform Your Colleagues About Your Vacation
Letting your colleagues know about your upcoming vacation will minimize the distractions, which will allow them to find alternatives to handling your work instead of calling you to attend to them. Let them know how available you will be while on your vacation, and also ask of any needs they may have for you while on your downtime.
Before you go, ask the following questions:
- What do you need to do before leaving for your vacation?
- How can they reach you in case of an urgent thing?
- Who will you leave in charge while you are away?
- What can be done in your absence, and how can it be handled?
- What advice do they need from you before you go?
Being on the same page with your colleagues before leaving will minimize the stress you will have while on your vacation and also aid you focus on your fun time.
Additionally, learn how to return a favor. To make the most out of your downtime, you will need help from colleagues and family. You will need your team members to cut you some slack and stop pinging every task on you. Thus this will add a little work to their daily routines.
They will be happy and willing to step up for you more often than not. However, when it is their turn for a vacation, they need you to step up for them too.
So, ensure you follow the golden rule even when it is not your vacation time and treat them how you ought to be handled when it is your time. This will also strengthen the bond between you and make you feel less guilty when it is your time to take a break.
8. Set an Autoresponder
You might not be able to email everyone on your contacts that you will be on vacation, so you’ll want to set up an autoresponder before you go on vacation.
In your email, you may include:
- The date when you will be available.
- A colleague that can be contacted in case of something urgent.
- Make it clear if you are unavailable.
- Be friendly and let them know you will get back to them as soon as you can.
Putting an out-of-office (OOO) autoresponder for your email will give you time to relax and learn how to deal with the stress while on your vacation.
More than 62% of employees check their work emails and voicemail while away. An autoresponder will prevent the strong urge to check your email every 5 minutes and keep you at peace.
An out-of-office message will reassure you that people know your absence and not expect an immediate response.
You can have the email template saved in your Gmail canned responses days before your vacation so that you can easily edit the crucial things and send them to the relevant people. This will save time and prevent you from missing out on vital details while sending the email.
9. Set an Hour To Deal With Work
If you are boss and you can’t go a day without doing some tasks, then you can set an hour to deal with that and avoid messing with your vacation time.
You may also tell your colleagues your work hour so you may deal with all work within your set time. By doing so, you won’t be worried about the unattended tasks, and you will be satisfied that everything is done. This will give you guilt-free time to have fun.
Remember, the purpose of the vacation is to relax, so make it your priority.
10. Keep Remembering Why You Needed a Vacation
It isn’t easy to push back the patterns we have in our heads.
One moment you may be happy and satisfied, while the other, you may be anxious and full of fear. It would help if you reminded yourself why you chose to go on a vacation during those tense moments.
Was it to recharge from the unending work assignments or to have alone time? Remind yourself how the holiday will impact your job performance and overall happiness, as this can help you in getting back in the vacation mood.
It will not only keep the guilt away but keep you in line with what you must do while on vacation.
11. Choose Your Ideal Vacation
Not having your dream vacation may multiply the vacation guilt since you are neither having fun nor achieving. Make sure your vacation to-do list will have you thrilled till the last minute.
Thus, before getting what you want, you need to know what it will be like.
Ask yourself: If I could create a vacation just the way I want it to be, what will it involve, and how will it look? Envision your ideal vacation, what emotions it brings, and draw a picture or write a description of what it feels like.
This will help you choose the vacation that will help you relax and not feel guilty as you will be spending your time well.
12. Buffer Work Exits and Re-Entries
Don’t work until the last minute you leave for the vacation and leap back to work an hour after your break.
If possible, schedule a day off work before and after your D-day. A day before will have you go through what you need to do before your vacation, while a day after will help you rest and prepare for work the next day.
Also, it will help you relax and not worry about leaving some tasks unattended or meeting deadlines.
13. Balance Your Vacation Activities
While on your vacation, alternate between restorative rest and staying active, which might help with keeping the guilt feeling at bay. You may choose a combination of a walk on the beach and five minutes of mediation which gives a biochemical boost.
The walk on the beach will stimulate endorphins, while meditation stimulates the part of your brain that deals with dampening adrenaline surges and cortisol accompanying stress. Being afraid of missing out on a promotion or getting sacked is normal. However, learning to accept those irrational fears is crucial.
So, plan your vacation and leave everything attended to.