How to keep work out of your summer vacation

Make work-life balance a priority and follow these three rules to get the most out of your downtime.

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Woman lying on the beach with a sun hat on
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Summer vacation is supposed to be relaxing and renewing, a time to regenerate and reconnect with family and friends. But it’s difficult to do that when your email keeps pinging and you’re getting calls from work about that project you’ve been working on all year.

Though it may require some legwork in advance, don’t let work take up your precious vacations days. Follow these expert tips to get the most out of your vacation.

1. Make enjoying your vacation priority number 1

When you’re at work you prioritize work, so it’s only natural that should prioritize your vacation, too. Doing so will vastly improve your vacation experience, suggests Eileen Chadnick business coach and author of Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy. “If you don’t recognize the importance of truly taking a break and see the value [in it], you are more likely to let work cut into your vacation time,” says Chadnick. “So start by truly understanding the need for your brain, body and spirit to unplug.”

2. Set clear boundaries

For many people it’s simply not practical to declare ‘I will not be available, period’ to colleagues before they take a vacation. But it is absolutely fair and equitable for you to set clear boundaries about access and to establish expectations, says Chadnick. If you don’t want to answer emails while you’re off, let people know. “If your colleagues think you will answer emails while on vacation either because you always do or you’ve told them you will then you will get more and more emails.”

Think about work-related matters that you will address while you’re away and let people know. “This might mean that you convey that you will only respond to emergencies or some other criteria that you determine,” explains Chadnick.

3. Don’t let your mind wander back into your cubicle

Don’t think about work. This last tip may be hardest to implement and may require the most discipline. “Catch yourself in those moments of thinking or worrying about work matters. Those reactive (and unnecessary) moments can be insidious robbers of quality vacation and rest time,” says Chadnick. Instead, when you notice your thoughts wandering to work stuff, practise focusing back into your present moment. “You will be rewarded with a more fulfilling and fueling vacation if you learn to tune-in to the present.”