Before we teach you how to mentally disconnect from work, let's talk about why you should. There are three main reasons: burnout is real and dangerous and a holiday vacation can help guard against it, you'll become more productive once you've had time to recharge, and you'll learn how to be more present which will make you happier and more content in your work.
Let's take a quick minute to look at each of these reasons in more detail:
1. Burnout is Real and Dangerous
According to Help Guide, burnout is "a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress."
Burnout is very common in the workplace. In fact, a Deloitte survey found that 77% of people have experienced burnout in their current job. Over half of those people have experienced it more than once. This isn't all that surprising when you realize that 768 million vacation days went unused last year in the United States alone!
Modern professionals are working harder than ever before, but not taking any time to regroup and recharge, which leads to burnout.
Burnout is both dangerous for the people experiencing it and costly for the organizations they work for. Burnt out workers are less productive, lower team morale, and are more likely to quit.
Fortunately, taking time off to achieve the proper work-life balance can help you beat burnout before it ever rears its ugly head!
2. Your Productivity Will Increase
3. You'll Learn How to be More Present
Lastly, when you unplug from work, you'll be able to become more present. Presence often leads to greater enjoyment, which results in more contentment and satisfaction. And when you're content in your job and life, you'll be a better employee, friend, family member, etc.
Think about it: a holiday trip without the constant stresses of the office — whether you go to some exotic location or Mom's house for Christmas dinner — will allow you to think about and appreciate the blessings you have in a real way. This is valuable.
Part of achieving a healthy work-life balance is allowing yourself to take a much-deserved vacation. And what better time to vacation than during the holidays? But if the thought of spending a week or two away from the office makes you break out in a cold sweat, don't worry.
The following seven ideas and strategies will help you make the most of your time off and get recharged for 2020.
1. Be Realistic
First things first, you need to be realistic about your time off. Not everyone has the luxury of completely disconnecting during the holiday season.
If you absolutely have to check email on a regular basis so that the office doesn't explode into metaphorical flames while you're gone, do it. Just make sure that it's actually necessary and you aren't inventing reasons to keep working because you're afraid to unplug from work.
It's also important that you relay your real intentions to your friends and family or whomever you'll be spending your time off with. If they don't understand that you'll be checking in with the office each morning, they may become agitated, which will cause you stress. No Bueno.
2. Plan Ahead
The next thing you can do to mentally disconnect from work this holiday season it to plan ahead. If you know that you'll be out of the office from December 21st to January 6th, you can do a few things to prepare and make your time away more manageable for the rest of your team.
If you plan ahead in these four ways, you'll make it much easier on your team and yourself while you're relaxing during the holidays.
3. Work Ahead
Planning ahead is great. Planning and working ahead is even better! The more you can get done before your holiday vacation, the less work-related stress you'll have during it.
So do your best to reach inbox zero before leaving for an extended period of time. We also recommend wrapping up any lingering projects, ordering any products you'll need in the new year, or balancing company books if applicable.
Whatever you can do ahead of time, do it. That way your vacation can be all about recharging and enjoyment, not worrying about the projects you need to complete when you get back.
4. Plan Your Time Off
Not everyone is a planner. For some people, the ultimate vacation is a new city and an empty schedule so that they can wander and explore without restraint. For others, a blank slate is stressful and peak relaxation can't be reached until each minute of their time away is mapped and accounted for.
Whichever personality type you happen to have, we suggest at least a minimal amount of planning. For example, your plan could be as simple as, "I'm going to Hawaii from December 23rd to January 2nd and I plan to hike trails, swim in the ocean, read on the beach, and whatever else I feel like in the moment."
This plan leaves a lot of room for improvisation but still specifies the dates of the trip and a few general activities the vacationer hopes to experience.
We suggest planning your holiday vacation to some extent because it will help you focus on your trip and not on work. After all, if work isn't in the plan, you'll be less likely to think about it and even less likely to do it.
5. Disable Work-Related Notifications
The easiest way to get sucked into work-related activities is to not turn off work-related notifications. Our smartphones are incredibly handy tools. They can also be destructive to time off and all but ruin the healthy work-life balance you're chasing.
So do yourself a favor and log out of your work email while on your holiday break. Try not to check social media either. In fact, the more technology you're willing to give up, the more likely you'll be to have a truly relaxing vacation.
6. Plan Your Return
One of the reasons people fail to take time off and overwork themselves is because the thought of returning to the office with a mountain of tasks to do is just too overwhelming. You can help combat this by working ahead, which we mentioned earlier. But you can also do yourself a favor by planning your return. That way you know exactly what to expect when you get back.
For example, before you shut things down for the holidays, you could block out a couple of hours to respond to emails on your first day back in the office. You could also schedule a time to connect with colleagues and get updated on anything you missed.
Can you see how planning your return can be beneficial and help you disconnect from work at home or while you're traipsing around the world on that vacation you always promised to take your family on?
As we've seen multiple times in this article, a little bit of planning goes a long way!
7. Commit to Unplugging
Finally, to really unplug from work this holiday season — or anytime, really — you have to commit to it. The office and its stresses will always be there, pulling you back in. To achieve a proper work-life balance, avoid burnout, and boost productivity, you need to decide, here and now, that your time off is important and that you won't let work interrupt it.
Once you commit, actually following through and disconnecting from everything office related becomes much easier.
As we've seen, a vacation and a chance to unplug from work is valuable. We hope you take some time off this holiday season to strive for a healthy work-life balance. If you do, just remember our seven tips to help you make the most of your time away:
If you can do those seven things, you'll have an amazing holiday break and come back refreshed and ready to crush it in 2020. Good luck!
Joe is VP of Corporate and Demand Marketing at Scorpion. He is also the CMO of Stockchain Global and Advisory Board Member at Ylixr. He has over 12 years experience managing various areas of marketing including research, media buying, social, and overall strategy. His analyses have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Associated Press, and Forbes. Joe holds a BSc in Finance and MBA in Strategy & Marketing from the University of Utah. He also has an Executive Degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.