Aiming for a work-free holiday break this year? Here’s how to realistically make it happen.
You’re working like crazy to tie up all of those necessary loose ends before you officially say goodbye to your desk for the holiday break.
Ideally, you’d spend your time off relaxing and recharging. But, if the past few years are any indication, you’ll more than likely spend a good chunk of your time glued to your computer or phone instead.
Well, no more. You deserve to actually kick back over the holidays. So, here are six tips to help you seriously disconnect and enjoy this merry time of year without work commitments hanging over your head.1. Be Realistic
While you should definitely make a strong effort to check out of work-mode over the holidays, it’s important that you’re also realistic with your expectations.
Now that we’ve all become so accustomed to being constantly connected, it’s that much tougher to unplug entirely.
So, don’t enter into your break with the assumption that you won’t even glance at your inbox until your time off comes to a close. You’ll likely only wind up disappointed and frustrated. Focus on being better than normal, rather than perfect.2. Lay Some Ground Rules
When you’re planning to disconnect for some time, it’s important that you set some clear expectations — both for yourself and the people that you work with.
In regards to yourself, will you allow any time to check in on work-related matters? If so, outline those rules now, such as only letting yourself pop into your inbox once per day for no more than fifteen minutes.
Also, make it known to your colleagues that you plan to be out of touch and for how long, so that they know better than to wait on you for any urgent requests.3. Prioritize and Work Ahead
A key part of truly being able to unplug during your time off is adequate prep work — after all, it’s tough to relax if you feel like there’s a ton of unfinished business looming.
When you’re a few weeks out from your break, make a long list of all of the things that need to get accomplished before you officially check out. Then take a look to see what can be delegated and what can wait until after you return.
Sort the tasks that are left in order of deadline, and then start chipping away at those to-dos far ahead of time. That way, everything should be pretty close to handled by the time you stroll out of the office for your break.4. Refrain From Setting Goals
This one can seem somewhat counterintuitive, particularly with the popularity of resolutions during this time of year.
However, if you know you’re going to be tempted to work when you really should be enjoying quality time with your loved ones, refrain from setting any professional goals for yourself until you’re back at work.
Why? Well, outlining those career and business ambitions during your time off will likely inspire you to get moving on those goals immediately — which will ultimately put you right back in front of your computer.5. Set an Out-of-Office Message
This step seems obvious, but it’s one that far too many people neglect.
Setting an out-of-office responder when you’re on your break will remove much of the pressure from your shoulders, as well as keep your colleagues in the loop.
So, make sure to draft one of these messages before you take your time off. Include your return date as well as the contact information for someone else who can help with urgent matters, and you’ll be able to cut that tether that’s constantly connecting you to your inbox.6. Abandon Your Electronics
Perhaps you’ve implemented all of these tips and you still don’t feel confident that you’ll be able to enjoy the festivities without a screen in front of your face.
If that’s the case, go ahead and lock away your electronics. Power down your phone and keep it in a drawer for the majority of a day. Put your laptop and your work bag in the back of the closet — where you’ll have to consciously reach for them.
These small changes can make a huge difference in how often you find yourself relying on those devices. When you need to be intentional about their use, you’re much less likely to be attached to them.
You deserve some time to unplug and relax over your holiday break. But, sometimes that’s easier said than done. Put these six tips to use, and you’ll be able to enjoy some (mostly) work-free and guilt-free time off.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.