Why do so many of us work while we are on vacation?
Like most, I look forward to my vacation all year. It’s a time to unwind and detach from the pressures of work and routine. We enjoy the time with our children and presumably they enjoy the time with us. Vacation is a special time that generates memories that last a lifetime.
Most experts agree that a vacation (or interruption from work) is necessary to regenerate and regain the energy and focus necessary to get our jobs done.
So why do so many of us work while we are on vacation?
I’m no authority on why people do what they do, but I can tell you from my own experience that the behavior of constantly checking a device such as a Blackberry has an addictive quality. We get in the habit of checking it and being connected 24/7 it’s hard to stop. They don’t call it a "crackberry" for nothing.
So what’s everybody making a fuss about? What’s the consequence of not checking out when we should? I think the movie "Click", one of my favorites for obvious reasons, does an excellent job of depicting the result of not being present for your family. In the movie, Adam Sandler is the father who comes upon a TV remote that allows him to fast forward through all the boring family stuff. Eventually he misses everything and his personal life is in ruin.
I love the movie because at the end he’s able to rewind and he learns his lesson without having to pay the price. The price we pay for not being disconnected from work is that we miss the really important stuff; our kids growing up (it happens so fast), deep relationships with family and friends and so much more. If you haven’t seen the movie its worth the time and I promise you’ll come away with a deeper appreciation for the value of being present.
So whether you are on vacation or just home for the evening or weekend, remember the boundaries of work and the value of being present.
Here are just four tips that I use while on vacation:
- Set aside a few minutes every morning before the kids wake up to check my email. This way I can deal with emergencies and prioritize non-emergencies for when I return to work. If you prefer not to deal with email while on vacation, turn your Blackberry or other smart-phone to phone calls only. Don’t respond to email unless absolutely necessary.
- Only answer work calls from my assistant. I prep her before vacation to only call me if it’s an absolute emergency. If you don’t have an assistant, pick one person on your team to call you if you are truly needed.
- Avoid listening to voicemail. I remember a time when an employee resigned using voice mail while I was on vacation. Hearing that news didn’t do much to lift my spirits for the balance of my stay. Be certain to record your outgoing message as being out of the office and not checking voice mail or returning calls until you return.
- Set up an out of office assistant in Outlook before you leave for vacation. This will let others know that you will be unavailable until a specific date and how they should proceed in the event of an emergency.
Do you have any tips to share about how you manage your work life while on vacation?