Monday Musings: Unplugging on Vacation
I hear the terms “unplug” and “off the grid” a lot in the workplace. It’s especially common during the summer months when a lot of us are on PTO for vacations and staycations. But in reality, I find that many of us aren’t actually doing this, and I hope to convince you that we all need a break from work. We deserve to truly enjoy our earned time off. Don’t check your email!
It’s been extremely stressful to handle day-to-day life for the last two-and-a-half years not to mention recent events that have many of us feeling anxious, angry and sad. It’s also important for us to admit that life prior to COVID wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. We’ve been an overworked and overwhelmed society for some time. COVID exposed these truths and compounded it with new challenges. Time to relax and recharge is as important as ever.
This summer I’ve enjoyed several days of PTO, and I will be using a few more later this month. I’ve worked really hard to refrain from checking Microsoft Outlook, Teams, etc. when out of the office. It’s hard to adopt this practice, but I’m getting used to it, especially when I am away with my family. This means I can truly be “off the clock.”
In my experience, below are a some benefits of "unplugging" and enjoying your personal time:
I am more engaged with my family and the activities when I’ve committed myself to dealing with work after our trip/vacation. If there is a work emergency, I can be reached but rarely is this necessary.
I don’t have to switch gears from work to family modes continuously. It’s less mentally and emotionally exhausting. This was a hard habit to break, because during the height of COVID I was working from home full time and my children were remote learning. The lines between my professional and personal life became very blurry to the point of nonexistence.
I prepare on the front end to be away from work. It’s more time-consuming in the days leading up to my time out of the office, but I am always grateful once I am on leave.
When I return to work, I feel refreshed, reenergized and ready to get back to my projects, goals, etc. that I’ve been planning for and working on. This is the purpose of PTO!
I realize some of you might work in an environment or with a supervisor who makes this very difficult or impossible. (I've found myself in that unfortunate situation in the past.) If you’re happy or satisfied in that life-work situation, then keep doing what you are doing. If you’re burnt out, stressed and experiencing physical and mental symptoms inconsistent with your typical health, it may be time to consider your well-being and reconsider professional goals. Sometimes we need to do more than “unplug.” Sometimes we have to move on.
So, enjoy your time outside the office! You will be better for it - I promise!