Getting back into your normal routine after a weekend is tough. After an entire week of mostly being unplugged… a smidge more difficult! It took me a few days to put down the phone, the iPad and the laptop. Once that was accomplished I breathed. RELAXED. And then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, we were packing our bags and waving good-bye to the resort, the quaint town and the hospitality.
My fiance and I are both freelancers. The lifestyle makes getting away a little more difficult at times. You can feel like if you step away someone else may swoop in and fill your spot. Or the very real loss of pay from time not spent working. But the world will and does go on without you despite these factors. Even when I worked for an employer I vainly thought my workplace would implode if I took a week of vacation (so not true) or it would be noticed if I came in an hour later to workout in the morning before the day began (so very very not true). Why do we feel this sense of guilt for missing work or taking the time we need to be our best selves? Shouldn’t we feel more guilty about missing our lives?
I love Expedia.com’s annual “Vacation Deprivation” survey because as a former analyst & geek I love to make solid arguments for doing more of what we love based on validated research! Vacation days – employed or self-employed – are earned. And we deserve to turn all the noise and phones off and truly unwind. Admittedly, I was still checking in for an hour or two Monday-Friday in Cabo San Lucas, but doing so helped me to relax knowing that I wouldn’t have 500+ emails to sort through upon return (and it alerted me to the fact I need to unsubscribe to a number of lists!). The next time you debate taking a vacation here are a few things for you to remember – bookmark this post!
WHY TAKE A VACATION?
- Because the French take 5 weeks compared to our measly 1 week or less in the U.S. (not reason enough?… read on!)
- Americans have over $63 billion in unused vacation in a year; vacation days are a part of your contract if you’re employed – it’s use ‘em or lose ‘em.
- People, workplaces and situations WILL survive without you for one or two weeks. Even our President takes mini-vacations (maybe our future prez should take more and set a better precedent…?).
- Vacations are not indulgent; they’re a mental health necessity, just like eating a great diet and getting regular exercise.
- Decreased sick time, increased productivity time. Who doesn’t want that?
VACAY TIPS FOR THE EMPLOYED
- Commit to it. Once you decide to take a vacation put it down in INK. Tell your family and friends so that you have accountability for taking and using your vacation time.
- Insist on using your vacation as part of your contract. If you don’t use it, make sure it rolls over or negotiate to have it paid out (I had 18 days of vacation when I left my D.C. job in 2012 – a nice payout, indeed!).
- Remind your co-workers and boss(es) at least 3 weeks before you leave, asking if there is anything that needs immediate attention.
- Go long. It takes 2-3 days to decompress and 2-3 more days to gear up for your return. If you can take 2 weeks, it’s optimal, but 10 days is a great way to squeeze in a weekend-to-weekend vacation.
- Unplug! Don’t set the precedent of checking emails or being available to your employers or co-workers when you’re out. If necessary, create and stick to a mini-schedule of availability for the first hour or two each day. Build in at least 1 completely tech-free day.
… AND FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED CROWD
- All of the above mostly applies to you, too!
- Budget in an annual vacation of 1-2 weeks each year. It may be tough your first year or two of business, but you’ll be much better for your clients and customers for taking time away.
- Let clients know that you will be away and will not be taking calls or emails. Set vacation autoresponders and voicemails to let people know how long you’ll be away and when you will return their calls or emails.
- Be realistic with regards to what you can and will accomplish before you take off for vacation. Feeling burdened or guilty from having a too robust to-do list in the week leading up to your time off does not make for a good vacation.
- Move the needle a little each day while you’re out with help from your team, pre-set social media or hire a virtual assistant to help if you can budget it.
Ultimately, make vacation yours in whatever way you need, but make sure to step back and not be consumed with thoughts of work life. I’m beyond thankful for all the incredible support from Lauren of Sister Disco, Dawn of Beauty Frosting, Amanda of Grow Soul Beautiful and Jess of The Wellness Warrior last week for hosting & posting while I was on vacation. I felt such a sense of support. All I had to do was ask for a little help and it felt like the perfect team came together to help me to truly indulge and enjoy my time away. My “co-workers” and team in the wellness and lifestyle realm truly rock. And they love kale and yoga. Seems like a win to me ;)
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