Habits for a High-
When life gets busy, the prevailing wisdom is to carve out some restful time to recharge. Yet, often some uncomfortable feelings may bubble up:
- Fear, that all your hard work will unravel the moment you step away.
- Pride, that no one else can handle what you do or that there’s nothing to benefit you from taking time off.
- Resentment, that no amount of rest will make up for the sleepless nights and missed life opportunities.
- Guilt, that everyone is working just as hard as you and it’s selfish to ask them to fill in for you.
If you still find yourself struggling to take time off, keep reading for ideas and advice from TiER1ers to help you approach the problem proactively.
It’s all in the planning
Danyele Harris-Thompson: For my recent PTO, I took the following steps to make sure everything went smoothly:
- I met with the TiER1 team on upcoming activities and deliverables to make sure we had everything squared away and everyone knew who was doing what.
- I connected with the client team to make sure key decisions and requests for information were made or in progress, so nothing paused while I was gone.
- I sent an email to the client summarizing the deliverables and activities that the TiER1 team would be doing while I was out, as well as who would be the client’s point of contact for each deliverable.
Heather Anderson: When I want to be totally disconnected, I will set that expectation with my teammates and then take the necessary steps to set everyone up for success while I’m away. (If I’m taking more of a working vacation, then we’ll discuss what work I will own during the break versus what others will handle on my behalf.)
I have a pre-vacation meeting with whoever is covering for me to go over all the work that’s in process. I also share a summary of notes and key action items/decisions with that person. A post-vacation meeting helps me get caught up on the project so I can quickly step back into the work and continue adding value.
Another little thing that helps is updating my email signature (sometimes weeks before I’m planning to take time off) with the dates I plan to be out. I add it to the bottom of my signature in bold red font. (I’ve seen a pretty extreme version of this from a colleague, whose signature stated that he would not be checking nor would he respond to emails received during his time out of office. Instead, he asked everyone to contact him after his return date! This approach may not work in every organizational culture.)
Work with your brain
Molly Winter: The idea of “PTO” isn’t real for me until I block my calendar, set it to auto-decline new meetings, and shut off my computer. As a best practice, try doing this once a week to build muscle memory, and then work your way up to a day, then a whole week, then maybe a month one year. I also find that enabling Airplane Mode and Do Not Disturb helps me avoid checking my phone.
Mike Divine: When it’s time for vacation, I log out from my work account on email and calendar apps on my phone and leave all other devices at home. That way, I can’t look at it even if I want to. It’s easy to log back in after vacation is over.
Kathy Sawyer: I leave the laptop behind, for sure, even when it’s just a day-long staycation. But I do get nervous if I don’t check various apps on my phone a couple times daily. Dictating replies while on the road is both a blessing and a curse: good, to-the-point communication, but hilarious and sometimes tragic typos (e.g., “lick” instead of “click”).
Noah Adler: Because I take my phone everywhere with me, I make the conscious effort to shut off work notifications on my phone (because I know if I see them, I’m going to want to answer them and clear them out).
Get inspired by the world
Molly Winter: My husband and I subscribe to Condé Nast Traveler, which makes for great bedtime reading. I also like to look at travel packing lists on Pinterest for inspiration, even when I don’t have a trip planned. (Does anyone else do this?)
Having a high-performing vacation
We hope that this summer includes a vacation that you can fully enjoy. If all else fails, you can always fake the vacation of your dreams. (TiER1 does not endorse the use of vacation-faking services, though hey, we won’t judge if you’re interested.)