The holidays are right around the corner, and you're looking forward to putting up your out-of-office email. But sometimes it can be hard to truly disconnect from work, especially when you're still trying to prove yourself as young talent, or you're hustling to get your portfolio together as a student. Here are some tips to help you set boundaries and step away from work, so you're able to reset and recharge during your time off.
Put in your vacation requests early
The more the team can prepare for you to be out, the less stressful it'll be for everyone involved, including you. Try to request future vacations as early as possible—especially ones you can predict, like the end of the year—so that you and the team can plan for it. An added bonus: it's harder for requests to be denied when it's so far out, because it's harder to see what'll be happening work-wise and who else might be out.
Come up with a coverage plan
The work doesn't stop just because you're not in the office, so make sure that people know who's going to be covering any incoming requests, and include this info in your OOO email. If there's an important pitch or project happening, give your team one mode of communication (be it a text or a phone call) they can use if they absolutely need to reach you.
Set your email boundaries and expectations
We can't always avoid being completely offline when on vacation, but you can set expectations for how often you'll be checking and responding. Whether you'll be checking your email once a day, or once every few days, make it clear how responsive people can expect you to be. On the flip side, if you'll be traveling abroad with sketchy wifi, or are committing to a digital detox, make sure people know that you'll be unreachable.
Time box your work
If you do end up having to respond to some emails and work a bit, make sure to time box it. Give yourself a specific amount of time to work (ex. 2 hours in the morning), rather than an indefinite amount of time. Not only will it make you more efficient, but it'll also keep the work from taking over your whole day. This is especially important for students working on their portfolios or looking for jobs over Winter break—give yourself a set amount of time per day/week to work, then step away from it.
Think of your time off as an ingredient for your best work
No, I don't mean use your vacation to put in extra hours towards a project. Many of us feel guilt and stress when we're not working, because we think there's more we could be doing. But the time when we're not working is equally valuable, because it allows us to rest (mentally, emotionally, physically) and reflect (ie. see the bigger picture and what's really important). A recharged you is going to come back to work ready to be brilliant vs. a burnt out you.
You got this,