Life

How To Set Boundaries At Work So You Can (Actually) Enjoy Your Vacation

Theresa Avila
4 min read
July 10, 2018
How To Set Boundaries At Work So You Can (Actually) Enjoy Your Vacation

Every now and then, everyone needs a little vacation. Now, whether “vacation” means you’re spending time poolside or you’re at home chilling in front of the TV is completely up to you. Regardless, it’s hard to argue against taking a well-deserved break from work to recharge and recoup.

We know that making time for ourselves is a key component of self-care and a healthy lifestyle. Still, when it comes to setting boundaries while on vacation, most of us still succumb to doing at least some work while on vacay. Don’t worry, though. That’s all in the past, and going forward, you can prevent this from happening. Here’s to set some vacation boundaries ASAP, so your boss and coworkers know better than to ping you on your days off.

Step One: Establish a plan of action for while you’re away

The process starts long before you actually clock any “time off.” If we’re being honest, it starts long before you even approach your boss and HR about taking some vacation days. The ideal situation is one where you’re known for logging off work at certain hours or that you only answer emails during the work week. Little measures like this establish you as a person who sets boundaries between work and their personal life. In this way, when you say you’re on vacation, your coworkers know you’ll be off the grid for sure.

Obviously, this isn’t the case for everyone. But, you can take some precautions before you go away on vacation to set up a similar vibe. The key part is establishing up a chain of command for everyone at work. You want there to be other people who are responsible for different tasks or projects you otherwise regularly oversee.

Think about who, after yourself, is most knowledgable about a work project. This is the person you want to delegate the task to. Communicate with your supervisor about pausing work on a project while you’re away and/or allowing someone else to take the lead in your stead.

Draft your plan and email it out to everyone the week of your departure.

Step Two: Get a head start on projects and future

You can create a chain of command and an out-of-office plan all you want, but if you neglect to actually get ahead start on stuff only you can do, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s not pretty, but sometimes it’s truly worth it to put in the extra hours and time leading up to your vacation.

You might not be able to tackle everything on your plate, but crossing off a few easy tasks will minimize the chance you’ll be needed while away. At the very least, it’ll help you sleep better and enjoy your vacation. Not having an important project looming in the back of your mind will help you relax that much more.

Step Three: Write that beautiful OOO reply email

Yes—it works! Email remains one of the key ways we communicate with each other at work. It’s also one of the easiest ways to establish some vacation boundaries. Take five minutes out of your day to set up the auto-reply feature on your email. In this way, anyone who tries getting in contact will, a) be gently reminded you’re out-of-office and, a) Know how to proceed.

When writing your email, remember to keep it short and simple. We break down how to nail the perfect response here.

Step Three: Uninstall any all work apps

There’s nothing worse than getting pinged for something you can’t (and don’t want to) tackle until later. Many of us have work-specific apps on our phones for messaging, email, etc. The easy thing is to mute all notifications from these apps. It’s easy, though, to fall into habit and wind up reading through an email thread that you really didn’t need to.

Log off all of your apps (and, if you can muster it, from all social media) and enjoy a notification-free vacation.

Step Four: Give yourself a work cushion for when you’re back

Don’t make the mistake of letting deadlines creep up once you’re back from vacation. It’s one thing to get a head start on any work you might otherwise need to do. But, the second part of the equation entails setting team deadlines that are are least a week or more out from your vacation.

This ensures that when you come back to the office, you’ll have some cushion to readjust. This is especially crucial if you plan on traveling extensively (it’s fun, but can be exhausting!) Remember to give your body and internal clock to readjust from differences in time zones.

Step Five: Enjoy your vacation!

That’s right, bb! Okay, so this isn’t necessarily a “step” but it’s a good reminder to—yes—relax! Enjoy your hard-earned vacation time. And, while you’re at it, why not pick up a great summer read? We’ve rounded up some of the hottest summer book releases here.