Four Steps to Taking a Real Vacation

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

I was recently browsing LinkedIn when I came across this BBC story, that I first thought had to be a joke. Apparently employees in the UK are taking vacation time to catch up on work! 

Isn’t that insane? 

I’m not really sure what’s happening on the other side of the pond. Are you guys okay?

All kidding aside – burnout is a real problem faced in the workplace.

In fact, the World Health Organization now recognizes it as a real condition. I write all about ways to combat this in my new book, Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You

And although I’m all for efficiency and hard work  – I would NEVER recommend taking vacation days to do more work! 

Your vacation time should be used as a way to break out of your workplace mindset and come back feeling refreshed. 

That’s the whole point! 

Saying that, actually taking my mind off of work was something I used to struggle with. And sometimes I still do. 

It’s one thing to say you won’t do any work on your vacation, but it’s another thing entirely to avoid it altogether. 

Here are the four steps you can take to make sure you get a real vacation: 

STEP #1: Planning – Everything good starts with a plan and vacations are no exception. As soon as you know the day you’ll be leaving you can start backtiming. That is, scheduling all the tasks you need to have completed before you leave so you can get out the door on time. This comes from my days as a live TV producer where we’d need to get the newscast off the air at the right time. So we scheduled our stories accordingly. This works for your pre-trip tasks too and allows you to take a clean break – knowing that everything is in hand. 

I’d take this a step further and create a daily list of what needs to get done each day before you leave. Make sure you only put the things you have the time and resources to do. 

So when you’re sipping cocktails on the beach you won’t have that creeping fear that everything is going wrong back at the office.


STEP #2: Set Boundaries – When you’re going on vacation it’s important that you’re not interrupted. Put an “out of office” message on your email, tell important clients that you’ll be away and hand them over to your co-workers if needed. When you do this please be specific about when you’ll be available next. I’ve been known to give myself an extra day after returning so I can set expectations and not rush myself. 

I’m not saying scream it from the rooftops, but close enough. In this time of constant connectivity we can often still be expected to check our emails even when we’re away because it’s right there on your phone. But it shouldn’t be that way – stand firm in letting coworkers know that you won’t be contactable. In fact, some people, like Arianna Huffington, go as far as to tell anyone who emails them while they’re away that those emails will be deleted so they’ll need to contact them again when they’re back in the office. 


STEP #3: Be Mindful – Yes, I said the M word. You need to be mindful when you’re on vacation. And be in the moment! You need to look around you, feel the breeze, listen to the birds, put your fit in the sand and really really feel it. Take in what’s around you and be present in the moment. Don’t be thinking about what’s happening back at the office. This will take some practice but once you give yourself a chance to relax and feel confident in the systems you’ve set up you’ll be able to let go. 

It’s easy to slip into work mode without even thinking about it. We are so accustomed to thinking about our work. Maybe you see a commercial on TV that reminds you of work somehow or the waiter has the same name as your boss. Next thing you know your thinking about work. When you start to feel yourself getting bogged down it’s important to have a way to sidetrack your thinking. Consider making a self care list that you can defer to in these moments. If you need some inspiration grab a copy of Listful Living I walk through lots of ways to take care of yourself and be less stressed. 

STEP #4: Ease Back Into Things– Ok so once you’re all blissed out and loving life on vacation it’s time to come back to reality. I know it’s harsh but it has to happen. But it doesn’t have to be such a jolt. Go easy on yourself. I always give myself an extra day after a vacation to acclimate and get ready to hit the ground running again. It can be too jarring and depressing to jump back in right away. Give yourself a buffer day or morning if you can so you will be mentally ready to head back to the office. And it will give you a jump start on your laundry too!

BONUS FREEBIE: Want even more ways to stay organized, productive and less stressed? Click here to get access to my List-Making Starter Kit. It will boost your efficiency and get you back to doing more of the things you love.

2 replies
  1. Get Organized Already
    Get Organized Already says:

    Go, Arianna! That is a great out-of-office reply: “those emails will be deleted so you’ll need to contact me again”

    Consider me inspired.
    Now I’m going to go read “Be lazy and Get More Done”
    Thanks for these much-needed reminders.


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