How to take time off: part two

The secret to relaxing and restorative time off is planning. Here are ten steps for taking the perfect break.

Woman on a boat taking time off

What you do during your time off matters. What you do in the run up to it can matter even more. Here are ten tips for taking better time off.

  1. Personal planning. Everyone starts the year with good intentions: to take that long break in the summer and take more long-weekend trips, but as soon as work kicks in, those intentions disappear. This year be more strict with yourself: sit down and make a 12-month holiday plan. Build in some flexibility, in anticipation of step two, but know roughly when and how long most of your holidays will be this year. Write it down.
  2. Have a conversation with the boss. Once you have your plan, set up a meeting with your boss to discuss your ideas and intentions to see how they fit in with with business needs. You will need to alter some of your plans, and perhaps leave a few open until nearer the time, but on the whole your boss will likely appreciate the ability to build in contingencies and plan projects more efficiently.
  3. Book your time off. Make it official. Whether it’s filling in a paper request, or scheduling it online with Turbine, do whatever it is you have to do to make your holidays definite as soon as possible.
  4. Book your holiday. Now you know when you can go, decide where to go. Just having time off booked it not sufficient motive to truly have a break. Pick a destination and book it. Do the same for some of your individual days off so that they are not wasted running errands or watching TV. If you’ve paid for it, you’ll go.
  5. Be invaluable, not indispensable. Make sure your business, team or project can function without you. No work should be dependent on a single person, it’s bad for the company and bad for the person. Fabienne Fredrickson recommends systematising your business, and documenting how it’s done so that it can function efficiently in your absence.
  6. Over-communicate. In the run up to your time off make sure everyone who depends on you, and everyone you depend on, knows when you are going away and how long for. Forbes recommends creating contingency plans and a countdown for your boss so that everybody feels certain that nothing will get missed in your absence.
  7. Final farewell. They day before you go, send out one final reminder. Tell everyone, colleagues, friends and family, that as of tomorrow you are on holiday and let them know when you’ll be back.
  8. Switch off. The second your vacation starts, communication should stop. Have an out-of-office response set up for your inbox, log out of all social media sites and switch to voicemail. Consider investing in John’s phone: it is the anti-iPhone. You can make and receive calls, that’s it: no texts, no internet, no email. As your holiday should be.
  9. Remember pen and paper? Everybody loves their gadgets. Smartphones, laptops, tablets – they are great fun and very useful, but you do not need them on holiday. If you are taking just a short break then sometimes it’s OK  but for your main holiday of the year, leave them behind. Take a notebook and pen, write down any ideas or to-dos and save them for later. This will stop you trying to do them the minute they cross your mind.
  10. Get excited. If you have done steps one through nine then there is no reason to be worried or anxious about taking time off. Enjoy the anticipation and look forward to the break – it’ll do you good!

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