Wednesday, December 31, 2014

4 Keys to Vacation Well

Every Christmas, Jessica, the kids and myself take some time at Christmas to go back to visit our families in Missouri and Kansas.  We save up some vacation time and make it a whole week's worth of family visits - which may sound painful for some of you, but we really enjoy being back home with our families.

But in today's high-tech world - something I love - it can be hard to break away from the office even when you're not there.  I get my email on my phone and iPad.  I can be texted at the drop of a hat.  One of my goals of any vacation is not to get any calls/texts about work.  My family deserves my undivided attention when I'm with them.  And I need to break my mind away from my job, and focus on my family.  This Christmas I succeeded!  Here's how I did that.

1. Make a Leave List

I'm a recent convert of Wunderlist, and probably would forget 90% of what needs to get done if I didn't use it.  Besides, Jim Wideman taught me that "our brains are for dreaming and thinking, not remembering things."  About 2 weeks away from a vacation I start my list of things that need to be done while I'm gone.  What do I do that I need someone else to do?  What needs to be done before I get back?  Is there anything that I need to order before I leave? 

Here are a couple of things on my Leave List:
  • Set-up my email auto-reply to let people know I won't be responding until I'm back.
  • Change my office phone voicemail message.
2. Send a "Who-To-Call List" Email

The day before I leave the office, I send out an email letting our staff know who to call for certain questions.  If there is a maintenance issue - call Carey.  If it's a building construction questions - call Nick.  Obviously your job is different than mine.  Just make a list.  This lets people know who to call - and it's not you.

3. Start the Back in the Office List

As I'm working on leaving, I'm always thinking of things I can wait to work on when I get back.  Start that list before you leave.  What phone calls or emails do I need to make when I get back?  What tasks need to get done the day I get back?  Starting this list helps set my mind at ease that I won't forget it when I get back.

And if you're like me, you'll think of something while you're on vacation.  Having Wunderlist on my phone lets me put in on the list...forget about it...and get back to my family.

4. Don't Check My Email

Don't do it.  In the past I would make the excuse that I'm just cleaning out the junk so that I can get back I can focus on the real emails that I need to deal with.  Bull.  Even if I didn't open those "real" emails I still saw that I had something from someone - and my mind was back at work.  In order for me to focus on my family I have to keep my mind out of the office - and that includes my email.

Vacations are for family.  Not work.  It's time we reclaim the family vacation to be about that - family.