Stop me when this starts to sound familiar: You had the best of intentions for not taking any work with you on vacation. But then as you got closer and closer to boarding a plane, you started slipping more and more calls onto your calendar and paperwork into your overstuffed suitcase. I’ve been there too. I’ve gotten angry glares from my partner while we were on a luxurious vacation in Vietnam but I was checking my work email by the lap pool by the beach we’d paid a small fortune to escape to.
Any CEO will be tempted to put out little fires that pop up at their business—even when they’re supposed to be enjoying a whiskey tour in Scotland or a massage in Thailand. But it’s critical for us to take work-free time off so we can recharge, increase our productivity, boost our creativity and more.
As an international vacation concierge, this is particularly tough for me because my job is tied to visiting exotic destinations. But I’ve made it happen. CEOs in European companies that get twice as much vacation as the United States have made it happen. And you can make it happen, too. Follow my checklist of seven steps you must follow to guarantee a 100% work-free stint on your next vacation. You (and your partner) will thank me.
- Tap Into Your Passion. You’ll be less likely to schedule a business call when you’re on a trip pursuing your childhood dream of kitesurfing in Brazil, tasting the world’s best red wines in France or going on an epic bicycle trip on a tailormade bike in Oregon. Fill your schedule with once-in-a-lifetime fun and you won’t let a little work blip get in the way of your amazing time away.
- Pick an exotic destination. People are less likely to call you when you’re more than a dozen time zones away eating fresh sushi in Tokyo or hard to reach because the cell phone reception is horrible when you’re hiking Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Splurge on a remote destination and the location will repay you with some distance from your daily grind.
- Create a “Vacation To Do List.” When you’re hard at work, it’s difficult to make time for things that don’t directly relate to your bottom line. Think: That 90-minute hot yoga class or the Broadway show everyone is raving about. Before you head off on your vacation, make a list of all those activities you’ve been putting on the backburner because of work and then figure out which you can fit into your vacation. If you’re traveling with your family, be sure to talk to them about the activities that matter the most to them on this vacation and figure out which ones you can do together.
- Write your OOO message—Now. Don’t throw something together in the hours before you’re trying to run out the door to catch your flight. Craft something at least a week before you leave, letting people know: the exact days you’ll be out, who to contact in your absence and that you will not be checking email. Be sure to activate it at least a few days before you depart.
Let your employees know that they can always reach out to you if something goes wrong, but that you’re confident that they can troubleshoot in your absence. This not only builds trust with your employees and sharpens their skills but it also allows you to relax.
- Prioritize. Most CEOs aim for perfection, but you don’t have to clear your entire workload before heading out of town. There’s a difference between what absolutely needs to be finished before you leave for your vacation and what would be nice to wrap up before you depart. If something can wait two weeks, take the pressure off yourself and let it. If something can be delegated, pass it along. If it’s urgent, make that priority #1 and knock it out before you step on that plane.
- Think outside the business box. Whatever entertainment you take with you, make sure it’s not related to work. Instead of a business magazine, take one about cars or cooking. Instead of an audio book that’s a biography of a great CEO, download something that’s pure fiction. Even if you love what you do from 9 to 5, it’s important to explore your other passions. You can find inspiration there, too.
- Commit to unplugging. Choose a work-related device and promise yourself (or your partner or your family) that you will leave it behind at home. Maybe it’s a work laptop you don’t want to lose anyway. Maybe it’s a work phone that would be a burden to lug around.
Worried co-workers will still reach out on your personal phone or that you’ll be tempted to check email on your iPad while you’re supposed to be reading a Tom Clancy novel? Create rules like “No iPhones at the dinner table” or take your iPad off of wifi to decrease the lure. Unwinding takes work, too. But it pays off in the end.
Have you read?
Turkey Citizenship By Investment Program, Moldova Citizenship By Investment Program, Vanuatu Citizenship By Investment Program, and The Montenegro Citizenship By Investment Program.
World’s Most Expensive Hotels For High Net Worth Individuals, 2020.
These Are The Most Traffic-Congested Cities In The World, 2020.
Workplace Burnout: Cities Around The World With The Most And Least Stressed Out Employees, 2020.