Blog

Shawn Achor

August 20, 2014 by Speakers' Spotlight

It’s Hard to Forget About Work on a Holiday: Here’s How To Do It

There’s lots of advice out there about how to disconnect from work and return to the office refreshed. But what’s the right holiday approach for you? Is it better to be completely out of touch? And how can you increase the chances that you’ll come back relaxed and revitalised? While summer may almost be over (weep), many people still have some vacation left before Labour Day. Happiness Expert Shawn Achor shares his advice for getting the most out of your time away from your job:

Practice with a mental break every day, before you go away: If you want to maximise your chances of a restful break, it’s critical to “practice” holidaying by shutting off a little each working day. Try turning off your smartphone for an hour in the evening. Or keep the radio off for the first 10 minutes of your morning commute, to reduce a little of the noise in your life.

Plan ahead and define emergency: The week before you leave, take steps to prepare for your absence. It’s also critical to explain to your team which situations warrant them contacting you.

Empower your team: Let your team know which responsibilities they need to shoulder. That will not only clear your plate for a few days, but also signal to them that you trust them. Give yourself permission to check in: To check email or not to check email? It’s the perennial question. Achor says to let your “personal anxiety level” guide how much you check in. The goal is to separate yourself from work as much as possible, but often a quick scan of your messages can actually dispel fears that the office is falling apart without you, and let you retire back to the pool in peace.

Leave projects behind: It may be tempting to bring a small amount of work with you on the theory you’ll get it done on the plane or lounging on the beach. Achors say that’s almost always a bad idea because you’ll miss out on the full effect of a vacation. “The productivity of a vacation is you’re trying to lower your stress, raise your levels of happiness, and create novelty for the brain,” says Achor. “If you finish your vacation without getting those three things because you brought work with you, you actually missed out on the rejuvenating benefits of that time away.”

Manage your return: Resist the pressure to dive right back into the fray. “Very few of us just show up and we’re at full speed,” he says. “The key for Monday morning is not to schedule any meetings.” That gives you a few hours in relative peace to get caught up on emails and other work demands. Savor your memories: To keep the positive effects of vacation as long as possible, try to bring part of the holiday back home with you. Make a point to look at your vacation photos regularly after you return, and set aside some time a week later to upload and organize them.

The Irish Times/August, 2014