Tips for Working on Vacation

It seems like it was just yesteryear I’d roll my eyes casually at the work-obsessed, thinking can’t you just, you know, work when you get home? Now I find myself slowly slipping into a sense of understanding. It’s hard. Especially if you work at a job that you really care for, or have invested a lot of interest in. Checking in with work can actually help you feel sane. It’s like making sure your cat was fed. You know someone else is feeding the cat but if you just check you’ll feel better.

I’ve seen too many people fall down the slippery slope of work email on vacation. I knew before I graduated college that I didn’t want to be one of those people who couldn’t relax or go off-routine. Here are some of my tips and tricks for doing vacation right.

Work extra hard before you leave

Working extra hard before you leave does two things. It makes you feel like you’ve set your job up for the time you’ll be gone, and it gets you really zonked, perfectly prepped for a vacation! Don’t let the vacation lull you in a week early. Use that pre-vacation week to really push through and tie up any loose ends so you don’t have to be thinking about them later. Bonus: Leave yourself a memo on your desk of what you accomplished right before you left and what you should pick up with when you get back. It will give you a starting place so you don’t feel like you’re totally blind.

Utilize 3D Touch

When I was in Canada recently, my boss sent me an email to not check my email. Ignoring the fact that I totally read that one email, I took up her on the advice, and switched my email inbox to my VIP tab. Every time I clicked into my email app, I could only see emails from people I’d set as VIP. Family, close friends, emergency contacts. Even better, I could use 3D touch to tap on the mail app and see if I’d gotten any email from my VIP without even entering into the app. Managing your email this way prevents you from having to scan past potentially stressful work mail.

Delete the apps that stress you out

If you can’t delete the apps that stress you out, try restricting access to them. You can go into your data preferences and say that those apps can only be accessed when you’re connected to wi-fi. If you’re traveling within the country, you’ll always have data. But if you’re outside of the country, access to wi-fi might be less reliable. You’ll be forced to cut ties with some of those addictions temporarily, and you’ll get the shame of seeing how often you check them. “Error!”

Turn off wi-fi, put your phone away

Put your phone away, grab a DSLR or a disposable camera, and go without your phone. Vacation is the time to disconnect. One of my favorite things about my road trip last summer was realizing how little I actually need the internet. We navigated Eastern Oregon with a real paper map and I used a combination of my DSLR and my cell phone (airplane mode) to snap photos. When you don’t give yourself the option to use your phone, you become less tempted to check in and see whats going on. The addiction is real, so push yourself to deal with the stress sweats. They’ll go away quick.

Imagine your ideal vacation

I’m going to go Marie Kondo on your ass for a second, but just envision this ideal vacation. For me the idea vacation is usually waking up and using a super awesome hotel shower, grabbing a cup of coffee, strolling on the beach, laying in the sand with a cocktail, reading a book, going on adventures. In not one mental picture does my vacation involve me holding, looking at, or operating my cell phone. Not. A. Single. One. I’m swimming in the ocean! I’m hiking up a mountain! I’m in a famous museum! Phones not on. Not thinking about work.

So take that ideal vacation and make it happen with action. Put your phone away, and live it.

Schedule Check-Ins

We are just four months away from our European adventure, and we’ll be gone for the better part of a month. That means I’m going to have to check in, at least sometimes. Schedule your check-ins so there is a predictable time daily, or weekly, that you’re immersed in your work. Get exactly what you need to get done, and then shut everything off again. Work on acknowledging the reality that the world does indeed revolve if you aren’t holding it up. Sorry.

Tips for getting started:

Going cold turkey can be near impossible, and just as enjoyable as actual cold turkey. Try doing some of these things in the month before you leave.

  1. Don’t sleep with your phone in your room.
  2. When you wake up, don’t look at your phone first thing.
  3. Dedicate some time each morning before work to do something for yourself.
  4. Treat one day per week (likely your weekend) as a vacation day. Distance yourself from your work, minimize use of your phone, spend time doing things just for yourself. (Also called: self care day)
  5. Keep a journal of the things that stress you out about your job. Think of small ways in which you can remove some of that stress. (Example: You check your work before bed every night and then realize you have trouble sleeping. Step one – don’t sleep with your phone in your room – could act as a solution to this problem.

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