It is 2/3 of the way thorough summer up here in North America and most offices I call or people I e-mail have gone on holiday. Checked out. No reply…..unless it is an auto-reply, which classifies as a non-reply when I am trying to get something done and the other party is having a party.
In this e-mail I am going to share with you two questions and responses with resources to support you in both taking a real break and then coming back and maintaining all of that great zen you amassed when you chilled out for a few.
Here’s two questions for you:
Is it ok to grant yourself permission to slow down during the summer or on holidays?
If you do slow down, how to you get back up to speed before September comes and splashes you in the face with full inboxes and a flurry of meetings?
My response to the first: Slowing down at any time is permissible given that you are able to adequately address each item on my list of holiday questions that demand answers…..see the bottom of this e-mail for the essential downloadable Q&A. It is a little something I’ve developed over time for my own use…..and I am in love with what it does for me.
Remember that granting permission is different than making excuses. Checking out because stuff got hard or uncomfortable is a whole different bag than checking out because it is important to re-energize every once in a while. In each of our hearts we know the difference, be careful of the duck out versus the check out…..it is a trap I have fallen into and I can tell you that coming back after a break of the ducking out variety feels much worse than simply facing the thing that I was trying to avoid has ever felt.
No matter if you live in North America where summer is in full effect or elsewhere on this great green globe, consider your next break now and take the time to make it a graceful exit into relaxation by working on the Q&A (you can even use it for weekend planning).
Now, my response to the second question: Re-entry into the great atmosphere of work and daily life can be a jarring one, or a smooth one, depending on how you plan for it. Here’s how I have handled it and how I have adapted since having more kids and more businesses.
I used to escape fully, no email, no phone, nothing. Though while on holiday this was fab, it was a real bummer to return to work, mountains of emails, voicemails full and a lot of small issues that turned into bigger ones while I neglected my responsibilities for the week.
I went to the other end of the spectrum next and kept my phone on, emails flowing and would essentially treat my holiday as though I was not on holiday at all. I was working with a different view out of the window and a lot more frustration as I tried to print, sign, conference from foreign places on the go. Not to mention the frustration of those with me who were sick of my work interrupting their holiday too. Although I returned to work all caught up as if I had never left, it was as though I had never left. I was not rested nor relaxed, I was disappointed that I missed my own holiday.
Now, I mix my business with pleasure, or pleasure with my business, depending on the time of day.
I just returned from two weeks out west with my husband and three kids and it was the best holiday I have had yet, here’s how I did it:
(1) I set a hard-core holiday email policy and communicated it. The auto responder let people know that emails received in by absence will be recycled and only email received upon my return will be viewed. This way the real work will be sent when I get back and all of the things that will become obsolete or random cc-ed emails will not have to be sifted through for hours on the first Monday back.
(2) I set up and communicated work time on the road with my hubby. I had three days where I worked half day (5:30 am to 11:30 am) and one day when I worked 5:30 am to 8:30 am. I set up babysitters for two of the half days and made plans for my hubby to hang with the kids for the other times I had work booked. I got 21 hours of work done and the kids and hubby effectively missed me for less than half of these hours because they were either asleep or had other activities planned.
(3) I told people who needed to know that I would be away long before I was going on holidays, so they had time to plan. I did not tell anyone I would be working at all during my holidays so that when they did hear from me it was a surprise rather than an expectation.
(4) I prepped my home and office for returning even before I left. Think lasagna in the freezer for dinner the first night back and arriving home to a clean house, lawn mowed even. Putting a few plans in place before leaving makes a big difference to how you feel getting home, overwhelmed or overjoyed.
Many of us are guilty of summertime thinking and letting things slide when it is nice outside or when we are on holiday. The issue occurs when letting it slide results in a landslide of overwhelm or lost opportunity. Imagine how far ahead you could get by taking just a few steps now to be ready for Back to School or Back to Work.
For me, all the difference is in clear, intentional planning and then acting on the plan. I love my freedom time, road trips and family time….and I need them all in order to do my best work.
Do you have tips, tools or habits that you use to make the most of time off and the best of getting back into action after being away?
I want to hear your stories of vacations that went well or whack, returning to work rested or still restless. How do you manage holiday time? I’ll meet you in the comments HERE.
Until next week – when I will be diving into the subject of RISK…..