It’s August, people. Have you gone on a summer vacation yet?
A real vacation. Not a stolen afternoon here or there. Not a three- or four-day weekend.
If your answer is no, there’s still time to act. In fact, late August or early September — when many people are gearing up for their back-to-school routine — can be perfect.
Maybe you’re the type to claim that vacations are more trouble than they’re worth. Getting ready to leave for a week or two is a gargantuan task, you say. Returning to a backlog of email and pending tasks too quickly reintroduces all the stress your time away was intended to relieve.
But please. You know downtime makes us all happier and healthier, both at work and in our personal lives.
So let’s assume you want to make it happen but just need a few tips to help get you started.
First, beef up your time management skills. This means identifying all your tasks, sorting them in order of priority and creating a schedule to get and keep you organized. Remember that the ability to put your work life into a state where you can leave it for a while is proof of how organized and disciplined you are.
Next, experiment with cutting back on your availability. We often think of ourselves as indispensable but, the truth is, few people really are. Paring down the amount of time you spend responding to other peoples’ priorities gives you more time for your own, and will make temporarily cutting that cord much more doable.
Don’t forget to start visibly performing at your highest level. While you’re gone, the last thing you want is for people to think that maybe they can get along without you. Now’s your chance to remind them of what you bring to the table.
You’ll also want to bring all your work up to date. Organize everything in a way that someone else, if needed, could step into your shoes until you get back. The idea is that people miss you while you’re gone, not curse you for leaving them in the lurch.
Finally, when you return, immediately and cheerfully resume doing quality work. Demonstrate in both word and deed that taking time off was not only a good thing for you, but for your employer and co-workers too.