You’ve made it! It’s finally time for your summer vacation. Ditch the office for a few weeks, forget about your work responsibilities and focus all your attention on your tan, a good book, and a work-free vacation. It sounds great, but is it easier said than done? If you think so, you’re not alone.  With the evolution of technology allowing us to get our work done almost anywhere, it’s getting harder to take a well-deserved break from work while your phone is blowing up with emails all day. In fact, studies reveals that sixty percent of U.S employees admit they work to some degree while they are on vacation. While the best way to spend a vacation is completely unplugged from work, many people find checking in with the office allows them to relax more knowing things are going okay, but checking in can be a slippery slope towards overworking on vacation and not getting the rest you need. Checking in to work is OK, but if you can’t seem to find the right work-life balance for your vacation, check out these simple tips.

Before you leave

Plan everything in advance. When you’re ready to jet off on vacation, there’s a long list of to-do’s that come along with traveling you have to get in order before leaving. Making sure your passports are up-to-date, flights are in order, dog sitter is arranged, your packing list is checked off; the list goes on and on. When you’re making this travel to-do list, it should be just as important to get your work priorities squared away as it is to get your travel priorities in order. Add these tasks to your pre-departure to-do list to make sure you are as prepared as possible to leave work behind:

  • Do as much as you can before you leave. If unplugging during your time off means you have to stay a few extra hours the weeks before you leave, put in the extra effort now so you have nothing to worry about while you’re gone. Try and close out every project you’re able to before leaving so you can come back confidently and not have to worry about remembering what was going on before you left.
  • Delegate what you can to your coworkers. While you might be nervous to ask for help, they will usually be understanding and open to taking on some extra tasks to pick up the slack from your absence! However, don’t expect them to take on every aspect of your job while you’re gone. Clearly communicate with them what you think is important to be tackled while you’re gone, and make sure to express your appreciation for their help!
  • Craft an appropriate out of the office (OOTO) automatic response to be sent from your email. To ensure you have the best out of office response, begin by thanking your emailer for contacting you. Continue the message with a description of how long you will be out and what you’re up to; make sure you don’t rub it in their face that you’re sipping a frozen drink on a beach, but you can have some fun and throw your personality into the email when you briefly describe why you’re out. Close out your message by directing your emailer to your next-in-line for who to contact (and make sure you’ve checked with your coworker that this is okay with them so they know to expect extra emails). Keep your message short and to the point for a most effective message!
  • Set a schedule for working during your vacation before you leave. If you know you must work while you are on vacation, create a timed schedule and limit yourself to that time before you leave. If you’re traveling with your family, try and choose a time that your kids, spouse, etc., will be busy and comfortable with you checking up on work. Don’t schedule any more time for work than 30 minutes each day, and try to limit your time to focusing on and responding to only important emails that require immediate attention. Let your boss and coworkers know before you leave you will only be working or checking emails between a specific period of time every day so they should only expect to hear from you during those times.

Once you’re on vacation

Enjoy it! This is your time off of work, so treat it as such. Spend time with your loved ones, get your tan on, indulge in some good food, and don’t let work hold you back. If you’re having a hard time enjoying yourself because work is looming over you, try and follow these guidelines to relieve your stress while also enjoying your vacation:

  • Stick to your schedule! You made a plan for a reason, so really try and limit yourself to only thinking about work during the time you decided to dedicate to work. The more work you do on vacation, the less time you have to focus on recharging, so make sure you aren’t doing too much work on your time off.
  • Prioritize what is important. Only pay attention to emails that really require your immediate attention, and ignore anything that can wait until you’re back. Try to keep your work that needs to be completed on vacation as simple as possible so you can avoid being stressed and overworking yourself on vacation!
  • Disconnect as much as possible! Challenge yourself to delete your email app from your phone while you’re on vacation so you aren’t constantly being reminded of work and distracted from your personal time. Everyone needs a physical, mental, and emotional break from working to refresh and refocus once you get back, so really try and remove yourself as much as possible. However, if checking your inbox once a day helps you relax more knowing things are under control, do it! Just make sure you aren’t overloading yourself when you are supposed to be relaxing. Put the devices down, look up and enjoy the view!

Coming back from vacation

Spend time getting organized. Returning to work after a nice vacation can tough, especially if you disconnected as much as possible. To make sure you have the smoothest transition you can, take these extra steps before diving back into your everyday routine:

  • Start by giving yourself a full day to get situated before you return to work. Instead of getting home at 11p.m. Sunday and returning to work that Monday, try returning on Saturday so you can take a day getting your house, inbox, and routine together before you going back to work. If you throw yourself back into work within hours of getting home, you’ll feel significantly more overwhelmed and behind than if you give yourself a day to focus and organize.
  • When you get back to work, catch up with your coworkers before you do anything else. Figure out what you missed that is important, thank them for picking up the slack while you were out, and ask them if they need anything from you immediately. After you get on the same page as them you can begin going through your inbox and truly catching up on what you missed.
  • Give yourself at least half of the workday for catch-up only. Don’t schedule any meetings for right when you get back, instead make sure you are caught up on everything you need to know and everything in your inbox before trying to get right back into it.

You deserve a stress-free, relaxing, fantastic summer vacation, so don’t let work take that away from you. Make sure you get your work in order before you leave, set expectations for working on vacation, and know the right way to get back into work once you’re home to ensure everything runs smoothly. If you master these elements of the work-life balance for the perfect vacation, congrats and bon voyage!

Do you have any tips and tricks for the perfect vacation? Share your thoughts below!