I’ve just returned from a fantastic vacation – completely disconnected from work. I do this a few times a year — go on vacation and become completely unavailable to my start-up. On this vacation, my wife and I went out of the country, and spent a week getting refreshed and reconnected with each other. It was fantastic, and exactly what we both needed. I’m now back at work feeling happy and relaxed — and ready to take on what’s ahead.
Here are the most important reasons of why you should NOT work on vacation:
It’s best for your colleagues
By remaining plugged-in even when you are supposed to be on vacation, you’re not teaching your co-workers and colleagues to learn how to make decisions on their own. Let’s face it: if you’re in a leadership position, you probably have a lot of opinions about how things should be done. Instead of trying to control every decision, work towards building an organization around you that knows how to make decisions without your input. When you are in the office, don’t just make decisions — explain why you made the decision. That way when you’re out of the office on vacation, you’ll know that decisions will be made with your perspective in mind. Another note about this: In my experience, I’ve seen that the people who always stay plugged in are more likely to have trouble delegating responsibility than those who are able to step completely away once in a while. By unplugging completely a few times a year, you’re training yourself to delegate. It’s a cathartic experience to step away from all decision-making for a week. Try it once and you’ll be hooked.
It’s best for your family
When you are constantly plugged in, you send the message to your family that you’re not fully engaged. They (obviously) want you to devote all of your energy to them, so they can feel in the hearts and minds that there is nothing that you would rather do than be on vacation with them. You can’t multi-task and effectively deliver this message. It requires truly “leaving it all behind.” I’m sure that you would walk away from all of your work in a moments notice if something tragic happened to someone you loved. Don’t wait for that shocking phone call to change your behavior. You can choose to unplug and focus all of your energy now — and you’ll enjoy every minute of it more.
It’s best for you
When you constantly are plugged in, you’re always viewing the trees– and not seeing the forest. As we tackle challenges throughout our daily life, there’s a constant chatter of problem-solving going on in our brains. I find that it takes me a few days after the start of my vacation to remove all of the “trees” from my brain. Then, after a few days of mental quiet, I take the last two days of my vacation to think about “forest” items in my life. This is the true benefit of a vacation; to allow you to step away, quiet your mind, and re-emerge with new perspective and thoughts about life and work.
It will give you perspective
Too often in our lives we lose sight of our place in the world. Vacation enables us to reflect on how we fit into the world at large and examine the impact our daily lives have on the bigger eco-system around us. There’s no better feeling in the world than being able to recognize how it all fits together and then get back to the nitty-gritty tasks with that fresh perspective.
It will spark new ideas
Quiet the noise inside your head for the first few days, and then focus 100% on your vacation for the next few days. Then on the last days of your vacation, grab a good old fashioned pencil and paper and write down some thoughts, trends, and ideas that come to mind. Some of your best ideas will come from your vacation notebook — and you’ll look at it with awe in years to come. I recognize that people are different, and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. But I’ll tell you this: unplugging has certainly been effective for me; some of the best ideas for Punchbowl.com came to me sitting on a sunny beach in the last two days of my vacation.
If you’ve never completely disconnected and gone on vacation before, give it a try. Promise your significant other/kids that you’ll unplug for one week. Leave your computer at home. Tell your colleagues that you’re completely unavailable (Need help? Try using this line: “I’m completely unavailable and on vacation next week. Don’t contact me unless the business kills someone. Everything else, you can handle.”)
Are you one of those people who works on vacation? You don’t think you can completely disconnect? I bet you can. Try it and you’ll be amazed by how great you feel when you get back to work. I know I always do.