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Avoid “Mental Baggage” on Your Vacation

There is something mysterious that often kicks in for many on “the day before vacation.”  That long tedious list of random tasks that you have been able to successfully suppress for weeks (or months!) suddenly overwhelms you with an urge of almost irrational determination to get done.  You simply must clean out the refrigerator, empty your inbox, return all borrowed items and dust your houseplants before you leave for vacation!  (It’s not just me, right?)

I agree with the theory that suggests that subconsciously you are desperate to de-clutter your mind and shed the excessive “baggage” that comes from all of those loose-ends, procrastinated tasks and unfinished projects.   You know that unless you do, you will have a difficult time transitioning into vacation mode and really experiencing the proven benefits that time-off has to offer.  

So, in planning for your time away, my advice is to also plan for a few unscheduled hours/days for wrapping-up things on “your to-do list” before you leave.  Doing so can allow you to be fully present while away from the office and be rid of any unnecessary worry, guilt or fear that an important project, expectation or customer was left neglected. Wouldn’t that be a nice change?

Here are a few tips to help you feel good about leaving the office for an extended time and reducing your mental baggage:
  • Avoid starting anything new that you can’t properly finish.  Depending on what your job is, prior to leaving, avoid the usual “over-packing” of your calendar with new tasks, projects and commitments. 
  • Clean out your email inbox.  A quick and effective way to do this is to sort your inbox by “sender” so you can review and delete large blocks of related e-mails.  
  • Clear your desk.  Eliminate the piles on your desk by starting with a quick sort.  Quickly dividing all of your papers into three piles – one for action items (things that require a specific follow-up action on your part), one for reference papers (items to be filed, support documents, etc.) and a “someday/maybe” pile – things you might get back to in the future.  Focus on taking care of your action items first.    (If you have the time to file the non-action items, great - but if not at least you leave knowing that you took care of all known commitments.)
  • Let your important clients and colleagues know you will be out of the office.  Send an email, set-up your email auto-responder and record a new voice mail greeting telling them of the dates you will be away and who they can contact should that they need immediate help. 
  • Finish, delegate or at least bring up-to-date all incomplete projects.

Tip:  Avoid hard-scheduling at least the first full day or two back on the job for reviewing your e-mails, processing new papers and being brought up to speed on any new issues.

Warning:  With this laser-like focus and plan prior to leaving, you just might be so amazed at how much you actually completed and accomplished that you (and your boss) may realize the answer for improved productivity is actually to schedule more vacation time!

Lastly, remember it is just work.  Work will always be there.  Enjoy your family and have fun!

-- Kimberly Medlock
Posted: 8/7/2012 9:21:48 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: baggage, big, business, chamber, declutter, ideas, medlock, memphis, mental, productivity, relax, small, stress, to-do, vacation, work

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