I looked at my calendar this morning and realized how many team members (including myself) are taking their vacations this month. In our 24/7 business world, it is hard to disconnect from work, even on vacation.
It is a sad situation to see a team member return from “time off” more tired than when they left. Leaders and entrepreneurs tend to be the worst at really enjoying the time away.
Here are some suggestions for what do during a vacation.
1. Disconnect and decompress — at least for a day or two
I am one of those guys who can’t seem to stay away from work things. I carry my laptop where I go and I am constantly checking emails for advertising and news leads. I remember using my Palm Pilot (talk about dating myself) on vacation — looking for WIFI signal to steal so I could check work email.
Trust me. Your business will not end while you are gone. Take at least a few days of your vacation to not check things at work. You need time to refresh, and worrying about things “back at the office” won’t allow for that. If you have the capability for an email auto responder, set it during your vacation. If not, see if someone else can check your email while you are gone. You do the same for your “snail mail” at home.
If you just can’t stand it, begin checking work things toward the end of your vacation. It’s not like you can do much about it until then anyway.
2. Read a book — for pleasure
If you are a book reader, and a business leader, there is a great temptation to pick up the latest book on leadership, marketing, or management and “knock it out” while on vacation. Don’t.
Reading these books, while great when you are thinking about your business, do not generally contribute to a relaxing vacation.
Last year, I read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson during my vacation. I thoroughly enjoyed it — for the sake of enjoyment. While it would have been easy to read the book with a notepad in tow to jot down any pertinent “nuggets” of information. The fact that I didn’t made it that much more enjoyable.
3. Think about work, but not too much
If you are a committed leader in any sense, it would be ludicrous to think you could completely disconnect from thinking about work. In fact, thinking about work while on vacation is where some of your greatest ideas may be conceived. Use this time to reflect on your personal development over the past year — celebrating the progress you (and you company) have made. Think about what the future should look like — both personally and professionally. Don’t make any concrete plans — just enjoy the vision.
The purpose of a vacation is to refresh your spirit and recharge your batteries. Done right, your life and your business will benefit greatly from your “time off.”
David Specht is President of Specht Newspapers and Publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.