How to REALLY Unplug on your Winter Vacation

With technology letting you take work with you on vacation, how can you really unplug? Here are some tips for not letting work overtake your vacation so you can unplug, relax, and have a great time.

BY: SHERRY GRAY ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2014
How to REALLY Unplug on your Winter Vacation

When the temps start to fall and the snow starts to pile up (or the heat finally breaks in the south), who doesn’t want to get away from it all? Unfortunately for business owners and high-level execs, “getting away” hardly ever means getting away from it all. Technology lets you take it all with you...and can really ruin a good time. You owe it to yourself and to your family to unplug, relax, and have a great time. But how?

It’s All in the Prep

You’ve been preparing the perfect vacation plan for months, so why not prepare your customers as well? Let your customers know well in advance that you’ll be out of touch and be sure to introduce them to someone who will take care of them while you’re away. Delegating responsibility can be the hardest thing for any higher-up or owner, but it’s important to trust your employees and co-workers to take care of customer needs.

You can also set up reminders and automatic emails in advance using your CRM. Insightly integrates with mail programs such as MailChimp and Outlook 2013 to make it easy to send emails on any given date, even while you’re shushing down the slopes or sipping a pinã colada on the deck of a cruise ship. You can gently nag team members about important deadlines by assigning tasks to each employee, send a cheery reminder to customers that you’re soaking up the sun but still thinking about them, or sync calendar dates to send template greetings for birthdays or other important milestones. In fact, once you’ve mastered automating tasks using your calendar, email and CRM together, it can save you a ton of time even when you’re in the office.

Set Clear Expectations

If you don’t have comprehensive policies and procedures in place, write up some guidelines and make sure your staff understands what is expected of them, what constitutes an emergency worthy of interrupting you (and what doesn’t), and how to handle delicate negotiations or situations. Empower your team to make certain types of decisions and explain clearly what they should not do.

Schedule Work Time

Let’s be honest. You’re going to check your email and voicemail, and log into your CRM to view project status, check progress, and put out any fires. Rather than let it take over your vacation, schedule some time every day and make an agreement with your family. Find a time that would be downtime anyway, for example, early evening after the day’s activities and before dinner. Then stick to the schedule. No cheating! Keep work time to absolute minimum, and don’t answer anything that isn’t urgent.

Choose Activities that make Work Impossible

You can’t take your smartphone skiing or snorkeling. Find activities that truly drag you away from work, and then really commit to having fun. No one ever said, “I regret that I didn’t work more hours” on their death bed.

Remember How to Relax
Some vacations are inherently stressful. Standing in lines for hours at a theme park, then hiking miles in what seems like blistering winter heat is no way to relax. Don’t pick a vacation you’ll need to recover from. Pick a place where you can relax, unwind, and try some new things. Go to a scenic location and try something you’ve always wanted to do. (Ziplining, anyone? No? How about scuba diving? Whale watching?)

Try immersing yourself in a new culture. There’s a fiesta going on in a Latin country right now. It’s incredibly freeing to put on a feathered costume and get your salsa on. Or you could just hop down to Key West for Fantasy Fest, where you can experience a culture like no other without the need for a passport. The more enticing your surroundings, the less you’ll want to hole up in your room and work.

Study after study correlates vacation time with increased productivity. In 2006, accounting firm Ernst & Young studied the records of its own employees and found that, for every 10 hours of vacation time, employee productivity increased by 8% the following year. The more relaxing your vacation, the bigger the benefit and the longer the benefits last.

Americans tend to cheat themselves out of much needed downtime. We are a nation of stressed out overachievers, and as a result, we hurt our health and cheat our children. Taking time off to relax is vital to our health and welfare. In the long run, taking a vacation where you relax and really unplug recharges your batteries in a way nothing else can...and improves not only your life, but the quality of your work.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Sherry Gray Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, FL, currently suffering the burbs of Orlando. She's a science geek, a political junkie, and a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She writes about business, marketing, technology, medicine...and everything else.
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