It’s that time of year when the thoughts turn to summer breaks. Here are a few thoughts about how to ensure you work and relax as usefully as possible!
1. Clarify before you go! Leave 2 days free in your calendar immediately before you go away. Get clean and clear: Get your email inbox down to zero, delegate what you can, work out what won’t die if it’s left for a couple of weeks. This wrap up time will allow you to make a great list of priorities for when you return, giving you peace of mind that the world won’t end just because you didn’t turn up at the office for a couple of weeks (bad news for the egotists amongst you, but it really won’t!)
2. Checklist it! Keep a note of what needs doing before you go away (the cat needs someone to feed it, someone needs to push your post through the door, someone needs to deputise on that meeting, your team needs to keep on top of that project). With a lot of these things, it’s the thinking and remembering that takes the mental energy and causes the stress. So keeping this as a checklist means it’ll be so much easier next time you go away. Keep the checklist stored on your calendar a month or so before you next plan to go away and you won’t lose it.
3. Capture and Collect whilst you’re away. If you’re one of those people who spends half the time on holiday still with their mind racing at 100 miles per hour (I’m guilty of this – it takes me several days to truly change gear!) then don’t just let it happen. Take a small pad and pen, and capture all those great ideas that you’ll start to have once you relax. And if you capture the thoughts that might be nagging you AND you trust that you’ll do something with what you’ve captured once you get back, you’ll get that stuff off your mind and enjoy your break.
4. The only mentions of ‘check in’ or ‘desks’ should be at the airport. Don’t try to check in on progress with colleagues whilst you’re there. If you’ve truly allowed yourself 2 days of good, uninterrupted thinking time before you leave, you should have everything delegated. Remember, productivity and connectivity are not the same thing. Resist your addiction to being connected. And in the same vein, turn off email and internet on your phone – it will help you enjoy the view, and you’ll be better rested on your return.
5. Clarity when you arrive back. When you arrive back, full of new ideas, refreshed but with a mountain of email to process, the 2 week-old list, plus new stuff flying at you, the worst place to spend those first seven hours is in meetings. Block out the first few hours on your return to get back in control: process the emails, get back up to date, catch up on what else has been happening and plan ahead. If the day of meetings is completely unavoidable, then for your own sanity, do this on your own time on the Sunday evening – not something we advocate for everyone, of course, but hey, some people have those kind of jobs..!