November 16, 2022

How to Unplug from Work During the Holiday Season

And just like that, the holidays are already here! As you frantically hang the stockings with care or try to meet those 2022 goals before the new year, it's important to slow down this holiday season both in and out of the office. With these simple tips on how to unplug from work during the holidays, you'll be ready to enjoy the full experience of this season.

What does it mean to "unplug" from work?

There are different ways you can unplug from work, both literally and figuratively. Our recommendation is to start (literally) with technology.

While it may be tempting to peek at your computer and work emails as you take a break from gift wrapping, resist those urges! Leave your laptop in a safe place at home before you hit the highways for the holidays. Ditching the computer at home will remove your direct line to work responsibilities and clear your attention span for holiday fun and rest. Plus – maybe Santa will bring you fabulous gift to occupy your time.

Although unplugging could be extended to ALL technology, we understand the necessity of having your cell phone handy during the holidays for emergencies or those holiday pajama photos. However, you can still unplug from the work and personal social media platforms that you use on a daily basis. Challenge yourself this holiday season — no Facebooking, no Tweeting, no Instagramming — and especially no endless scrolling on TikTok!! What special holiday moment can you experience around you? If you're tempted to take a photo, try to save it on your camera or cell phone to post later. Those adorable family Christmas photos can wait until 2023!

Why should I do this?

Did you know that 38% of people say their stress increases during the holidays, and roughly half of holiday vacationers don't disconnect from work during their time off (American Psychological Association)? Constantly being in work mode can have a harmful impact on your creativity and productivity. The additional time you dedicate to work outside of rest hours can lead to prolonged exhaustion and create burnout – and nobody enjoys this experience!

There's a reason your brain feels so different during and after the holidays. A change in your daily routine stimulates the senses with new smells, feelings, sights, sounds, and tastes (especially when the smells are holiday cookies or Grandma's cooking). When you unplug from work mentally, your brain can rest from its usual routine and accelerate from sponging up all the holiday experiences. But even if your job doesn't require much mental strain or creativity (like an assembly line), your mind can still benefit from the change in the long run.

What are some examples of what I can do?

·      What concerns or worries enter your thoughts when you think about disconnecting from work during the holiday season?

·      Many people worry about not being able to disconnect from their colleagues or clients when they leave for holiday break. Our suggestion is to start with writing out solutions and a plan to address your concerns with your team before you all leave for the holidays. This way, you're leaving your teammates with an action plan to start smoothly in the new year.

·      This may require training employees or colleagues on certain aspects of your job, communicating your extra holiday vacation plans in advance to colleagues and clients, working ahead on certain projects, and creating temporary processes while you're away.

·      While this may seem like a lot of work up front, the idea is to create plans that help your team, your clients, and yourself so everyone can succeed.

Do these things before you leave:

·      Write down your list of concerns about what it means to disconnect from work.

·      Create a plan of solutions for each concern.

·      Bring in team members, employees, colleagues, and external resources to help with action steps on executing the plan.

·      Work ahead on projects or requests so that you return from the holidays to a milder workload.

·      Create temporary processes and communicate the processes to those who could be impacted by your extra time away during the holidays.

·      Set your out-of-office message, turn off email notifications, step back from your desk, and breathe. It will all be ok.

·      Keep your first day back at the office clear of meetings and commitments to allow time to catch up on emails and missed phone calls.

Do these things while you're gone:

Breathe. Drink a cup of hot chocolate. That's it! Feel the fuzzy reindeer socks on your feet. Hear that? It's holiday break. This is your time to step away from work and give yourself some space to be present and spend time with those you love.

However, if you are heading out for the holidays early and you're in a position where your team may need to reach you with questions, here are some helpful ways to handle incoming notifications while you're away (if you absolutely positively must answer):

·      If you are in a position where you must receive some work emails, set holiday break alerts on your email so that even if you don't check it every day, you can still stay aware of urgent issues.

·      Put your phone on airplane mode when you're away from work, so it won't distract you with unexpected calls or notifications.

·      Set recurring time blocks throughout your trip for digital detox time—after all, spending time with the people around you is part of what makes the holidays so valuable! Be sure to stick to these time blocks.

·      Create a new holiday tradition: food, activity, location, music, fun, chill time, etc. Experience something a little different than what you're used to during the holidays.

Do these things when you get back:

Coming back from holiday break can be the hard part, but it doesn't have to be.

  • If possible, schedule an additional day off between traveling home and returning to work. This can be a day when you are home to unpack, catch up on laundry, or just take an extra 24 hours to rest. Holiday traffic can be a knock-out, after all.
  • Make a plan on what is realistic to achieve the first day and first week back after the holidays. Perhaps include:
  • Reading and responding to X number of emails or calls each day.
  • Setting up meetings to touch base with your team or clients.
  • Assessing how things went while you were gone and the next steps needed.

While it's crucial to success to take time away for yourself, it's just as important to plan how you will step back into work when you return. After all, you don't want to reverse the good things your holiday break brought you by trying to do too much when you come back to work!

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