making the most of summer vacation

When to log off: Making the most of your summer vacation

making the most of summer vacation

It’s no secret that the majority of Americans are “workaholics.” According to CNBC, nearly half of U.S. workers put in over 50 hours of work per week without extra pay.

Constantly being on the clock can make it hard for you to log off when it’s time for a vacation.

A report from the U.S. Travel Association reveals 212 million vacation days were unused in 2018, which is an equivalent to $62.2 billion in lost benefits. This year, reports show 4% of Americans will not ask for personal time off this year at all — even though their companies offer it.

Your paid time off (PTO) is part of your compensation package and taking advantage of those benefits can make you more productive in the long run. We know it can be hard for some to take time off, and can be even harder to unplug and de-stress while on vacation. Sometimes work is just unavoidable, but we’ve listed a few strategies below to make your experience seamless.

Here are some helpful ways to make the most of your OOO status and enjoy your vacation:

Before you go:

  • Don’t over-commit. A Glassdoor survey reveals that 66% of Americans admit to working while on vacation. If you know you’re heading out of town, don’t take on new projects when you know you won’t be able to finish them. Be honest with yourself before promising due dates and give yourself enough time to complete the task. If a project is left unfinished, tag in a colleague to assist well in advance.
  • Write an effective out-of-office email. You probably already know that it’s proper business protocol to set an OOO email if you’re unavailable during work hours. Perfect your OOO email by keeping it short and sweet. List the dates you’ll be out, a point of contact and when you’ll be returning. Wired.com recently shared these useful tips for crafting the perfect OOO email.
  • Be mindful of adding to your coworkers’ workloads. More than half of America’s workers say filling in for a colleague can be a “significantly stressful event.” To keep from doubling your teams’ workloads, plan for who will handle your tasks/projects while you’re out. You’ll want to provide your coworkers with all the documents/emails/information so it’s easier for them to help you. They will appreciate how seamless you made it for them to fill your shoes (and might return the favor when it’s time for their own PTO). 

While you’re gone:

  • Turn off email notifications on your phone. Turn off all notifications on your phone so you’re not distracted while trying to relax. Receiving a constant stream of notifications from your inbox will make you feel anxious and pressured to respond right away.
  • Don’t talk about work. According to a Glassdoor survey, 14% of responders said a family member or loved one complained about their workload while on vacation. Your workaholic tendencies can affect your family’s vacation time, too. Enjoy your time away and be present in the moment.
  • Limit your email check-ins. Give yourself boundaries when it comes to checking your emails. This Fast Company article recommends you allow yourself 15 minutes in the morning and evening to check emails while on vacation. Checking in periodically, but not spending too long engaging, can help manage your work-related anxiety.

When work comes up while OOO, these tools can help. We know vacations can’t always be 100% work-free. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to make those situations easier and help you get back to enjoying your time off.

  • The Pomodoro technique is a useful time management tool that uses 25 minute time-block intervals to teach you how to work with time instead of against it. Working and taking breaks in segments can help you prioritize your workload in a more efficient way (and remind you when it’s time to get back to your vacation).
  • Boomerang allows you to schedule or snooze emails ahead of time on both Gmail and Outlook. Pretty handy option to use while on vacation so you can schedule emails for a later time and return to your trip activities.
  • InsureSign (the No. 1 e-signature software for usability) makes it simple to get any document signed from wherever you are. Just realized you forgot to get a contract signed before heading to the beach? Then quickly hop online, and send it off for signing electronically in seconds with InsureSign. (The final digitally-signed document will automatically be emailed back to you, so it’ll be sitting in your box when you’re back from OOO time.)  Start your risk-free 14-day trial today by clicking here.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, taking the time you need to truly unplug can reap major dividends for your mental health, enhance your productivity and ultimately, set you up for success. So go ahead: book a flight and pack a bag. It’s good for you.