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How to unplug from work while you’re on vacation.


How to unplug from work while you’re on vacation. How to unplug from work while you’re on vacation.

Key Takeaways

  • Let colleagues know about vacation dates and define what constitutes an emergency.
  • Declutter your inbox and set expectations with out-of-office and status messages.
  • Avoid canceling plans. Hold your boundaries and coach team members to self-sufficiency while designating a go-to manager in your absence.
  • Schedule a catch-up day to ease back in.

Listen: How to unplug from work while you're on vacation.

Finding it difficult to unplug from work? When you think of taking time off work, what comes to mind? Do you imagine traveling? Spending quality time with family and friends? Maybe even indulging in a little self-care? Or do you picture a mad rush on your last day in the office, the constant check-ins with your team, and the avalanche of emails and messages that you'll find waiting on your first day back?

If you're anything like me, it's a bit of both. I truly want to unplug. I've read all about the benefits of taking time off work—feeling more engaged, more creative, and less burned out. Yet, it's still really tough to make it happen.

Through trial and error over many years as an individual contributor and manager, I've figured out what works for me—how to disconnect from work and stress less when I take time off. Here are seven strategies I've learned that you can try for yourself:

1. Let your colleagues know you're taking time off

Once your time off is approved, don't feel shy about sharing your vacation dates with others. Beyond an initial heads-up, it's important to remind your team in the weeks leading up to your time away. Don't hesitate to bring it up in project planning meetings, team updates, and 1:1s. This is helpful for a few reasons. First, you can discuss what tasks need to be handled while you are away and figure out who can cover them. Second, you are setting the example to others on your team that it is okay to take time off and you don't need to hide your need for a break. (Having started my career during the rise of hustle culture, this was particularly challenging for me!)

2. Define what are and aren't emergencies

email alert on how to unplug from work

It feels good to be seen as a critical team member, someone who's needed to solve problems—that's natural. But most of the “issues” I've been contacted about during my vacations could have easily waited until I returned. My advice is to get clear with your manager and team about what constitutes a true emergency, and how you want to be contacted if one arises. When I struggle to hold this boundary, I remind myself that although my job is important, most things can wait until I get back.

3. Declutter your inbox

Returning to an overflowing inbox is one of the most stressful aspects of taking vacation from work. Even just anticipating what my inbox might look like makes my heart pound a bit faster.

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Jessica Gross

Jessica Gross is a marketing leader with over 10 years of experience in marketing strategy, customer research, writing, and project management. As a Director of Marketing at Aquent, Jessica leads brand strategy and marketing communications initiatives, including positioning and messaging, website and blog content, as well as marketing campaigns.


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