In this tech-obsessed world, you’re always glued to at least one of your electronic devices. You’re constantly notified of an email, text, call, meeting—the list goes on. Even some fitness trackers now let you know when you’re receiving a phone call. While it’s imperative to stay in the loop during the workweek, you deserve some time to completely disconnect from the constant influx of notifications.
And what better way to disconnect than on a vacation? According to US Travel, studies show that about half of Americans end the year with unused vacation time, and accrue a total of 705 million unused vacation days annually. Few Americans take the vacation time they’ve earned, and to top it off, even fewer actually fully disconnect from work while they’re away.
It’s important to fully immerse yourself in out-of-office mode while you’re on vacation. Follow these 5 strategies to actually disconnect while on vacation and fully enjoy your hard earned time off.
1.) Delegate tasks and notify colleagues of your upcoming absence
To best prepare for an upcoming vacation, make a list of urgent and must-do tasks that need to be completed while you’re gone. Reach out to your most trusted teammates a couple of weeks prior and delegate your tasks accordingly to team members who will be available.
Additionally, email anyone that you regularly work with to notify them of your upcoming days off and ask for a list of assignments they need to be completed before you leave.
Keep lines of communication open before your trip as this will ensure a smooth transition for everyone going into your vacation. Remind colleagues of your upcoming trip by sending out a final reminder email a few days prior to your trip. Be sure to include contact information of one point person who outside colleagues can contact if necessary. By preparing with these few steps, you will calm your nerves and alleviate the feeling of needing to check in every day.
2.) Adjust your notification settings
While checking apps may be something you do subconsciously, there are still ways to avoid an accidental look at your inbox that turns into hours of surprise work. When you arrive at your destination, start disconnecting right away by turning off all notifications. Without text alerts, email notifications, calendar reminders, and normal daily alarms, you’ll allow yourself to relax.
You can even create a new folder on your phone screen labeled “Do Not Open”, and move your email, messages, and calendar apps into it. This disconnection tactic will make it more difficult to mindlessly end up in a work app while scrolling through your phone.
3.) Choose a location with a different time zone
If you’re still deciding on where to go on your upcoming vacation, consider destinations that put a few time zones between you and the office. By being awake while your colleagues back home sleep, it makes unwanted communication far less convenient, and encourages mental distance between you and your job responsibilities.
Another option is to deliberately choose a location where cell phone service is sparse, and wifi is hard to come by. Some of the world’s most beautiful destinations are also the most remote ones. If you’re struggling to land on the perfect location, check out these beautiful destinations without internet access.
To really tap into a fully disconnected experience, opt out of an international phone plan and only check your phone when you have wifi at your hotel accommodations. Consider switching your phone to Airplane Mode, as it will turn off cellular data but still gives you the option to connect to wifi.
4.) Travel with an accountability buddy
If you’re traveling with another person or group, ask them ahead of time to help you on your quest to disconnect. Agreeing to keep each other accountable before you depart will set expectations and will help you stay mindful of the purpose of your vacation. Allot specific times for non-work phone use, and practice leaving your phone behind when participating in fun excursions. Besides, vacationing with a travel buddy who’s focused on enjoying the moment is more fun for everyone.
5.) Plan out your return
Our last tip is one of the most crucial, and it’s to have a clear, organized idea of what your return to work will look like. By planning out the week of your return before you leave, you’ll feel less obligated to check in with colleagues while you’re gone.
Be sure to schedule catch-up meetings and check-ins with your team and clients, but dedicate your first day back to catching up on emails and settling back into a routine. Map out a clear plan for the 1-2 weeks following your vacation, and ask a colleague to fill you in on anything important you missed.
Pack your bags and enjoy a restorative vacation
We hope this inspires you to take time away from your devices and truly enjoy the vacation you’ve worked so hard to earn. By preparing before you leave and taking active measures to disconnect, you’ll get the most of your vacation and come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to jump back in.
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