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Going on Holiday? 6 Tips to Leave Work at Work

A typical holiday from work often includes relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Yet, for many Canadian workers, taking a holiday doesn’t always mean truly leaving the office.

A recent survey from shows that 30 per cent of workers read their work email while on holiday. With easy access to work email via smartphones and tablets, it’s common for workers to feel like they have to check in, even when they’re supposed to be checked out. 

“Taking time off is important for employees to rest and recuperate from the stress of their daily work lives, so it’s important for employers to encourage their employees to take advantage of their allotted time off,” says Mark Bania, managing director of CareerBuilder Canada. “Some workers have a harder time than others checking out completely, however, and that can cause more stress than not going on vacation at all.”

Completely unplugging from work while on holiday is easier said than done, so here are some tips to help you make the most of your next trip away from the office:

  1. Get work done ahead of time. Thirty-two per cent per cent of workers say they have come back from a trip away with so much work accumulated that they wish they had never taken time off at all. To avoid feeling overwhelmed when you return, get ahead of tasks before you leave. Bania suggests wrapping up as many projects before your holiday begins as possible so they aren’t lingering in the back of your mind during your time away.
  2. Put boundaries in place. If your colleagues see you responding to emails while away, it will give them the impression that it’s OK to reach out to you. Instead, make it clear you’re inaccessible and put plans in place to ensure any requests will still be handled. Bania says to let co-workers and clients know you will be away, and who they can contact in your place. Also allocate tasks to new owners to ensure progress is made in your absence.
  3. Set designated check-in times. If you really don’t think you’ll be able to resist checking your work email while out, designate one or two times each day as check-in times. Read your emails, respond to what you need to, and then shut your phone off the rest of the day. That way, you’ll feel like you’re up-to-speed, while still being able to fully enjoy your time away.
  4. Stay close to home. For some, the most stressful part of taking a holiday isn’t missing work, it’s being able to pay for it: 17 per cent of workers report that they cannot afford to take a holiday. Bania says that even taking just a few days off work to relax at home, spend quality time with the family or catch up with friends can make a huge impact on your health and well-being.
  5. Ask for days off in advance. While plans can come together last minute, try your best to schedule a holiday ahead of time, and give your boss a heads up as soon as your trip is set. That way, you have plenty of time to work with your manager to tie up loose ends. You’ll also potentially avoid being out at the same time as other colleagues, ensuring that others will be there to take over while you’re away.
  6. Get over the guilt. “Remember, your vacation benefits are there for a reason,” Bania says. “Your employer wants you to take time off, so you can return refreshed, rejuvenated and productive.”

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