Thoughts of an evolving leader — The pre-vacation technique
Who does not hate these “last day before vacation” feelings. Your inbox just will not clear out, your calendar keeps getting filled and people suddenly have very urgent last-minute requests. Just 10 more minutes and then I hope the world will not end while I am gone. The worst thing then is you will need at least the first two to three days for regaining energy to actually enjoy your vacation.
About three years ago, as my tasks became more important, and as it started mattering to people, that I am on vacation, because they needed stuff done and I got more and more in the situations described above. I knew I did not want to keep going like this and waste aways the beginning of my vacation. As this phenomenon became even more extreme since I went into a leadership role, I want to share my little coping mechanism and how it worked for me.
So, let’s look at the pre-vacation technique. If we look at the following very scientifically drawn curve of stress between vacations, you would start into your vacation somewhere at a high degree of stress and then suddenly decrease your stress. This timeframe of declining stress is the before mentioned tiring first days of vacation.
I thought let’s move that point forward on the curve, so I can have some decline already before vacation. So, my curve would look more like this:
Here’s how I try to achieve this:
I work as if I am on vacation one week before the actual date. This means finishing all tasks one week early, delegating tasks early on to others if they cannot be done on time. While scheduling meetings in this timeframe, either try to move them if easily possible and if not, have them already prepared the week before your vacation. I know, this seems like a lot of stress, but that is the whole point of it. Shift your inevitable workload one week back, so in your last week, you only have to handle the most important things of the week, and only focus on easy tasks, already able to relax a bit.
As a bonus, try to keep your last day without any meetings. There you can easily setup your out of office messages, say goodbye to your coworkers, even have some nice chats without stress. You could even work on things you never have time for. Then just clean up your desk, sign out everywhere and start your relaxing holidays.
Note: I am talking about a multi-week vacation, not a two-day trip to your family. This would definitely be overhead for that plus I doubt people would be happy with you and your workload you could handle.
I hope this was inspiring and I can at least spread some awareness on stress and actual relaxing vacations. Until next time…