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Before we dive into our top tips (and lessons learned) for setting yourself up to take a stress-free vacation, let us be clear on what vacation means. When we use the word vacation, we are not referring to a working vacation, we mean a real vacation. The kind where you turn your “out of office” on for your email and you don’t actually check it. You know, real downtime. Studies have shown that real vacations, where you can detach and relax, positively impact your health and well-being, whereas “working vacations” actually negatively impact your mindset and wellbeing. 

Now, I know that most of our clients are business owners, and the buck starts and stops with them. They may have teams, assistants, and partners, but ultimately taking time off does not happen by accident. Taking a stress-free vacation requires a few things…

  1. Set the intention to take the time off…for real.
  2. Plan ahead and put it in your calendar.
  3. Block off that time so no one can schedule with you during that time.
  4. Adjust your projects to finish before you leave or after you get back.
  5. Set expectations with new and existing clients, colleagues, or collaborators.
  6. Maintain boundaries – it will be tempting to make exceptions.
  7. Automate letting people know you are on vacation.

Automating letting people know you are on vacation could mean turning on your out-of-office reply, letting people know you are out, when you will be getting back to them, and if relevant, who to contact in your absence. It is important that everyone on your team know that for a certain period of time they will only have emergency access to you so you need to define what “emergency” actually means.  And depending on what type of business you have it might make sense to post on social, send out a newsletter, or send a reminder email.

The other thing to consider when traveling is to give yourself some buffer on either side of your vacation to handle the unexpected. If you book yourself up to the minute you leave and the minute you get back it will be a tough transition. And just as you use packing lists, we’ve seen our clients create lists of things they need to do before they leave and when they get back. That is especially helpful so that you know you aren’t holding all that information in your head and you can really let go and enjoy.

Watching other workaholics like me go through this process has been illuminating but these are the tips that have helped me relax. And that’s the point right, to enjoy your vacation – you earned it!