How to Unplug and Return to the Grind Recharged
As entrepreneurs, we often struggle with completely shutting down and stepping away from our work to recharge. I know it’s never been easy for me to truly turn off my phone, not check my email or worry about what’s going on at home when I’m traveling. Even then, getting back to work often means digging out of piles of emails and playing catchup for days. So what’s the right way to vacation? How do we step away from our business without the world crumbling, let our brains relax and return to a place that’s not a warzone? With strategic planning, and careful commitment, it can be done. Here’s how to fully unplug and return to the grind recharged:
Set yourself up for success. Don’t wait until you already have your toes in the sand to start combatting emails and reducing stress. Use the time leading up to your departure to make sure everyone knows you will be gone, and to put systems in place to delegate work during your time away.
One to two weeks before: Delegate responsibilities to partners/employees (the people you mention in your out-of-office reply) to make sure everyone knows who is in charge of what while you’re away. Automate as many tasks as possible, using tools like If This Then That (IFTTT) for the digital world (this is a good time management practice in general but gearing up for vacation is a great time to put it in place).
One to two days before: Set your OOO reply, and be thorough about it. Instead of “I may be slow to respond” go with “If you need X, contact Bob. If you need Y, contact Susan…”
Night before: Don’t let that one lingering thing continue to linger. Now is the time to put those few items that are causing you stress away for good. Knock out the items on your to-do list so that you can truly enjoy your time off. If some things cannot be resolved now, then put them out of your mind for now as well. Control the controllables.
This is the hardest part. As entrepreneurs we are conditioned to work day in and day out without rest. But after a while it takes a toll on you. That’s why you have set aside this time to get away. If you are going to do it, really commit to it. Even if it’s available, don’t get hotel Wi-Fi. Don’t sign up for the international data plan. And most importantly, don’t bring all your devices. Stick to one (maybe two) that you can’t live without.
Schedule an extra day into your vacation before going back to the office or reconnecting with your team. That way you have a full day to catch up and dig through emails before taking on new projects.
It will never be easy for us to fully unplug, and to be honest, many of us may not want to, but for those who see the benefits of real time to unwind, these strategies will help you make the most of your vacation and return to your team completely recharged and refreshed.
Sarah is a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis where she studied systems engineering and entrepreneurship. During her junior year she opened Green Bean, an eco-healthy salad restaurant. She is now in the midst of launching her second business, a line of performance-focused men's business socks: Unfettered Socks. She was a finalist in the Entrepreneurs' Organization's Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in 2012. Find more about her on her website.