5 Steps to Unplug During Vacation

I recently took a 10 day vacation [actually just got back to the routine today]…something that is really very hard for me to do because I absolutely LOVE to work!

I am passionate about being available for my clients.  I never want to not be able to help them when something comes up.  I want to resolve their problems quickly and never want to have them in a position where they have to wait.  However, that “ideal” desire means I never call it quits and hence when I typically take a vacation, I still work.  They know this.  They know my response time is near immediate, or as soon as I get out of a meeting or training session.  So when they hear me stating I am going to go away, they don’t assume that means I am unavailable, because they have gotten used to my habits.

My bad habits which have created a life long work life balance issue.

This time, I felt it was time to make a serious change and not continue to just keep talking about making changes to my work life balance issues.  I made a commitment to myself that I would not work for a full 10 days, even if 2 full days were going to be spent doing a one-on-one coaching session.  I promised myself I would not read any business email, I would not talk to any clients via text or phone, and I would not discuss work with anyone the entire time. Believe me, I got my tests at this, which I will talk about in another post.

Today, I want to share with you the 5 things I did to ensure that I totally kept my commitment to myself.

  1. A week ahead of my departure, I sent an email to all my clients, strategic business partners, employees, and vendors letting them know that I would be out of the office taking a vacation and business coaching course from date to date.  I let them know I would not be taking phone calls, responding to emails or text messages until I returned.  I thanked them for their support and patience.
  2. After I completed that, I created the auto respond to all emails and set that up to start the night before I was to leave through the morning I returned to work.  It pretty much stated the same thing that I had sent out a week in advance, but was shorter and straight to the point but included a response would come the day I returned to work.  As always, I thanked them for their business.  I want them to know they mean something to me, because they do!
  3. I put my cell phone on silent the entire time I was on vacation.  In order for me to not answer a call or text message, I felt I could not be in “normal mode”.  I had to set new boundaries.  Since I did not want to be pinged by the voicemail, email, Facebook, LinkedIn, or text message alerts [yes, I could have just gone into all these and reset the settings but that probably would have taken more time than to just turn the sound off], this was the easiest solution to silence the incoming message.  If I wanted to engage in social media or emails, I had the option and could choose when I wanted to be on my phone but outside of that, I was not available and would not have to make the hard decision to respond or answer because I couldn’t and wouldn’t hear it.
  4. I limited my “online” time at the computer each day.  When you spend much of your time in front of a computer, in order to unplug, you have to change things.  I checked personal email once a day, blogged at the end of the day or the next morning about the previous day, and I logged into business email to delete the trash and keep the inbox from getting too full to quickly.  However, I did not once read any of them nor did I respond.
  5. I changed my Voicemail to state I was unavailable and would return calls when I was back in the office and the date that that would transpire.

I have had friends state they have had to delete their application so they didn’t do email while on vacation. I am sure there are many ways to accomplish the task and achieve your goal.  Would you like to share one way that works for you?

I am pleased to tell you…I kept my commitment and though I had 3 different tests come my way, I made great strides at creating a new habit to break away and unplug from work, the phone, emails, texts, and social media…just relax and enjoy life with no set routine!

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