Vacation Time? 12 Ways to Leave the Office Behind

by Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

You work hard. You deserve your vacation. Yet in a world where we're all shouldering more and constant connectivity is par for the course, leaving the office behind can seem difficult, if not impossible.

Yet with a little preparation and follow-through, work doesn't have to ruin your vacation.

This article explores 12 tips to a restorative, relaxing, and work-free vacation you can truly enjoy.

1. Consider timing

If you prepare taxes for a living, don't schedule your vacation during the first two weeks in April. Pick a time of year when your workload and the demand on your time is reasonable.

2. Make a list of things you must do before leaving

There's nothing worse than having your snorkeling session interrupted by a panic attack when you realize you forgot to return an important client's call, or put the finishing touches on a project.

Make a detailed list of things you must do before you leave, and check them off as you go.

3. Make a list of things you must do upon returning

It's hard to relax when you think you're going to return to chaos. Make a detailed, clearly itemized list of things you must do when you return to your office.

Instead of fretting about your return and what it holds, you'll know exactly what your first few days back will entail.

4. Organize your work area before you leave

There are two good reasons for this. First, it's nice knowing you're going to return to a clean and organized space.

Second, you'll be able to enjoy your vacation knowing that unfinished work isn't buried somewhere on your messy desk.

5. Delegate tasks to capable co-workers

Someone will have to take care of your work while you’re away.

Give your work to colleagues you can trust to follow through and do a great job, and you’ll give yourself peace of mind.

6. Tell clients who to contact in your absence

Avoid returning to a voice mailbox stuffed with messages from clients.

Tell them when you are leaving and returning, and give them the name and contact information of the trusted person who will handle their needs during your absence.

7. Come up with a detailed emergency plan

Let everyone in your department know whom they should contact if there is an urgent situation that must be dealt with while you're gone.

8. Let colleagues know that you won't be checking in, period.

Set some ground rules so co-workers know what to expect.

If you are the type of person who simply can't do this, designate one or two times when you will check in, and stick to them.

9. Leave your laptop behind

It's too tempting to work when access is easy, so why tempt yourself?

Leave your laptop at home, and make a point to catch up on some good books instead.

10. Ask co-workers not to call your cell phone

Or the hotel you are staying at. Or the house sitter, with a request to track you down.

If you feel there are rare situations that only you can handle, define these as the only exceptions to this rule, and give one person permission to call you in these situations.

11. Focus on the moment and enjoy yourself!

If you find your thoughts sneaking back to work, remind yourself of all the steps you took to ensure that your time away from work was stress-free.

Then order yourself a Margarita.

12. Pad your schedule

Back in the office on Monday? Tell clients you'll be returning on Wednesday.

Knowing that you've given yourself a couple of extra days to catch up and take care of any unresolved situations that occurred during your absence will make letting go much easier!

Work at work. Vacation on vacation

Whether you're touring Europe, relaxing in the tropics, enjoying Disney World with the family, visiting your mother in Topeka, or taking a much needed staycation, it's important to take this time to truly be in the moment -- and away from work. It will help re-charge your batteries and allow you to be an even better employee when you return to the office.

We hope the 12 tips in this article help you leave the office behind and enjoy a truly restorative, relaxing, and work-free vacation.