Breaking the work cycle – getting the most out of your holiday

Sue Thomas holiday

It’s that time of year when people’s minds are turning to holidays. Of all the years, 2021 is one where we all deserve one. When you go on holiday – if you can find anywhere to book in this highly-competitive era of UK holidays, or finding a country abroad you’re actually allowed to visit – it’s important that you take the time to switch off and recharge your batteries.

Sometimes this is easy, but often it takes a few days to unwind and feel completely relaxed. This is especially the case if you work for yourself, or run your own business, but is true of anyone, in any walk of life. Getting the most out of your break, in terms of rejuvenation and rest, is after all, why you’re going on holiday. Otherwise, you might as well just be working from another location.

Off and on again

Everyone’s different when it comes to relaxing. Some people love reading a book by the pool or on the beach, while others enjoy something more energetic, such as a clifftop hike, or sailing, or surfing. Doing an activity, in particular, can occupy your mind and take your concentration elsewhere and away from work. Some people are advocates of completely turning everything off, while others take a laptop ‘just to keep an eye on things and in case of emergencies’.

But having the opportunity to do work can sometimes mean you end up doing some.  If you have a team back at the office, they can surely hold the fort for a week, can’t they? But also, if the worst happened, and an emergency arose and needed to be dealt with, there are some times when a mobile phone with an internet connection just isn’t enough. It’s a fine balance between going on holiday with peace of mind, that you have left no loose ends, and abandoning ship and hoping for the best.

Very remote working

Of course, for many people part of the appeal of a holiday is the fact that they can get away from everything and everyone, and work can’t intrude at all. This can be helped by the location – parts of Scotland and Cornwall, for example, are notorious for their lack of phone signal, which for many is part of their appeal. Not having the option to work certainly ensures none gets done, but equally there’s no point going on holiday fretting about what’s going on back home.

It can also be tricky finding a spot in the year to take time off that ensures you truly have a work-free holiday. Some of my colleagues in HR have mentioned that in these unusual times, with working from home, or returning to the office, or the job’s market picking up again, it has taken all their energy to keep up with their workload. And as things return to normal, time constraints and schedules are only going to get busier.

Rest and relaxation

But it’s important both to get that time off and to make it count.  Even if you find you are still catching up on work whilst you are away, hopefully you will find that the division of being in a different place or country, breaks the mental link and allows you to enjoy yourself too. It is vital that you have the opportunity to reset your mind and fully appreciate and benefit from the welcome break.

I am currently on holiday in Scotland, and I’m enjoying the opportunity to spend some time away from work (writing this article doesn’t count!), though I must admit I have obviously taken my laptop with me. But because of where we are  – our usual trip to Scotland – and what we are doing – walking and sightseeing – the laptop is a prudent precaution, rather than a necessity…

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