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Relax, Refresh & Recharge: The Art of Taking a Work-Free Vacation

“Take a break and give your soul what it needs.”
Audrey Kitching

With schools breaking up for their Christmas holidays, some of you will soon be departing on a much-needed vacation.

The thing is if you run your own business or are a senior manager in a large organisation, dropping out for a couple of weeks is often easier said than done.

With power, comes responsibility. What if a client needs you? What if there’s a problem your team can’t deal with? What about that mountain of e-mails you’ll have to trawl through upon your return?

I truly feel your pain.

As an executive coach and consultant, I am my business; if I’m not working, nothing gets done.

A recent survey by Glassdoor (of 380,000 + anonymous participants) suggested that 47% of employees find it difficult to fully disconnect from work whilst on annual leave. One in 5 feel the need to keep on top of work and 20% worry about incomplete work piling up on their desk.

In this article, we’ll discuss some simple things you can do to lessen the impact of your absence from work and take a look at how coaching can turn your dream of having a no-interruptions, 2-week vacation, into an annual (or biannual or triannual!) reality.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.”
Anne Lamott

Work/Life Balance

Why is it that when we talk about achieving a healthy balance between our time at work and our personal lives, the word ‘work’ still comes first?

Maintaining a good life/work balance will reduce stress, and have a positive impact on both your physical and mental health, your family life and believe it or not, your productivity.

Being overworked causes stress and stress affects your mood, concentration, ability to make decisions, and immune system. It’s not surprising that companies who encourage their employees to use their annual leave see higher levels of productivity and lower levels of employee absence and burnout.

The Covid Effect

There’s no denying that the pandemic has affected the way we work. Pre-covid, employers were hesitant to allow working from home because of fears that productivity would drop. Lockdown, however, proved the exact opposite; on average, UK companies saw their employees putting in an additional 2 hours of work per day (Bloomberg UK).

The problem was, as things around us started to reopen and our personal lives became busier, striking that balance became more complicated, often resulting in the blurring of lines.

According to the same Glassdoor survey, 16% of people believe their work life and home life are now too entwined to allow them to fully relax when they are on holiday. (HR News)

Thankfully, there are ways in which you can prepare your workload, and team for time away. Being in charge doesn’t mean you have to forfeit downtime; you need to unwind, just like everybody else.

“Relax, recharge, and reflect. Sometimes it’s okay to do nothing.”
Izey Vicotria Odiase

It’s All in the Planning...

Whether you have a team around you or not, there are steps you can take to lessen the impact of your absence:

Manage client and peer expectations: You must make people aware if you are going to be off the radar for a while. They’ll understand; everybody needs a break. Be clear in communicating your time of absence, who you are leaving in charge to deal with any issues that may arise, and the steps to follow. If you work alone, there are still steps you can take to ensure your clients are looked after if they have an urgent query. You may already employ the services of a virtual PA or Business Management Company; in addition to their regular commitments, they could also monitor things for you whilst you are away.

Set your team up for success: Even on holiday, you are still accountable if your team fails, so you need to ensure that you set everything up to make it as easy as possible for them to function in your absence. Before you leave, get as much work done as possible and be proactive; cover all bases and issues that may arise.

Clear lines of accountability: Create a singular point of contact to make decisions; this could either be the most senior or experienced member of your team, or you could rotate that responsibility. The latter gets everyone involved, helps your team to grow, and prevents any perceived favouritism from causing a rift.

Knowing when to escalate: Be clear with your team on when to escalate a problem and who to get involved, should something go wrong in your absence. This way, you ensure your team gets the right support from their peers and other leaders in the organisation.

Prepare your email inbox: Nothing screams ‘welcome home’ like a full inbox. According to, there are several things you can do before you go away to make catching up on e-mails once you return, a breeze:

  • Set up Filters: Before you go on annual leave, set up your inbox to file your incoming e-mails into specific folders. For example, one folder could be set to receive e-mails from your team, another, e-mails from clients. This way, when you return, you can prioritise reading e-mails in these folders first.

  • Set up an out-of-office automatic response: We’ve already talked about managing expectations; your out-of-office response is the best place to do this. Include the dates you are away and who people need to contact in your absence. Be clear and concise and if possible, tell everyone you are away a day longer than you are, so you have time to catch up on admin before they start calling you.

  • Schedule some catchup time: Before you go away, set time aside in your calendar (2-3 hours) to sort through e-mails upon your return.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
Alexander Graham Bell

The Bigger Picture

In this article, we have provided you with some great tips to allow you to relax on holiday and help you to catch up more easily upon your return – but what about the bigger picture?

If you’re finding it hard to achieve a 2-week, work-free holiday - then you’re probably struggling with your life/work balance in general.

That’s where coaching comes in.

It’s time to make your dream life/work balance, a long-term reality.

Coaching gives you the opportunity to put your ‘foot on the ball’ and look around to see if you’re making the best use of your time.

As your coach, I would help you to analyse how your time is spent, then look for opportunities for you to delegate, train individuals or switch up procedures to make them less work intensive.

We would then create an action plan, which I would support you in implementing and hold you accountable to achieving.

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.”
Jana Kingsford

Coaching stretches and challenges your thinking; it helps you to look past self-imposed barriers to your dreams and builds confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Pick Up The Phone

If you need to ready your business or team to allow you to enjoy a work-free holiday, CALL ME!

Be proactive and arm yourself with the tools and knowledge to introduce positive and sustainable change to the way in which you work.

Phone: 07799474776

Your no-interruptions, hassle-free holiday awaits...

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