No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one – Elbert Hubbard

Have you ever come back from a vacation feeling more tired and stressed than before you left?

If you have, you are not alone!

According to a Wellness Junction survey, 54 percent of respondents indicated that they were tired when they returned from their vacation. Of those, 19 percent reported that they were “very tired or even exhausted.”

Now you might attribute these feelings to doing too much parasailing or hiking or whatever you do while away. However, this is not necessarily the reason for your post-vacation funk. In fact, the problem actually begins before you even leave home.

Do Leave Home Without It!

You are probably familiar with the famous tagline from the old American Express commercial “don’t leave home without it”.

This is great advice for travelers checks and credit cards, but not so much when it comes to the things that can interfere with your actually taking a vacation on your vacation.

You have to leave work off of your vacation itinerary to truly relax and re-energize, suggests Dr. Roger Cadieux, a clinical professor of psychiatry. If you must work, the doctor adds, you should limit your efforts to “high priority tasks.”

This would seem like a reasonable compromise but . . . can you really get away from it all for a much needed break if you never leave the office?

vacation out_of_office

My Vacation Quiz

Take a few moments to answer the following five “YES” or “NO” questions to determine if you are indeed vacation ready:

i) Besides a bonafide emergency, did you check in with the office more than once during your last vacation?

ii) During a vacation leisure activity when you were having fun, did you ever feel pings of either guilt or worry regarding being away from the office?

iii) As your last vacation was coming to an end, were you already thinking about what needs to be done at work when you return?

iv) As your upcoming vacation time approaches, are you counting the days with joyful anticipation or anxiety about being away from the office?

v) Have you ever cancelled a vacation for work related reasons . . . more than once?

The Results:

  • If you answered NO to all five questions, your are good to go. Enjoy your time off!
  • If you answered YES to 1 to 3 of the five questions, you have some more vacation prep work to do. Check my 3 steps below.
  • If you answered YES to all five questions . . . read all three steps below and then email me in the morning. We have some work to do if you (and your family) are going to enjoy your vacation.

With today’s mobile, ultra-connected in real-time technology, separating yourself from the world and your office may seem like an impossible task.

However, if you follow my three simple steps to vacation serenity, you will find that a brief sojourn from the day-in and day-out demands of the business world will do you a world of good.

One More Thought . . .

When it comes to tuning out and kicking back to relax and enjoy a vacation, an Ohio State study found that women have a much more difficult time than men in this department.

vacation women worry

Unlike men, who are great at compartmentalizing their lives, and are thus better able to disconnect from the office, women tend to contaminate their free time with thoughts of things they should have done or completed.

The problem of course is that there is always going to be something that needs to be done. Or to put it another way, there is no such thing as the perfect time to take a vacation.

To those women who are reading this, you need to pay particular attention to Step 1, especially with regard to the fact that you deserve a vacation, and that you can trust the other members of your team to step up and do what needs to be done in your absence.

Step 1: Mindful Preparation

“Every person needs to take one day away . . . Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence . . . Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou


Long before you board that plane or get behind the wheel of your RV, your vacation should have already begun.

You cannot simply transition your mind from work mode to vacation mode at the flip of a switch.

Think of your vacation like the beginning of a race. A runner doesn’t simply show up at the track a few minutes before the starter’s gun is fired and expect to run well.

Instead, the runner shows up a couple of hours before the race. They stretch to loosen up, and go through their pre-race routine. By the time the race is ready to begin, they are ready both mentally and physically to run the race.

They are in the competitive frame of mind.

Here are a few tips that will help you to get into a vacation frame of mind:

  • Accept the fact that everyone deserves (and needs) some time away from the office.
  • Trust the people who are on your team. They know what they are doing and will do a good job in your absence.
  • Start scaling back and transferring your workload the week before your departure.
  • Recognize that you have to actually leave the office mentally, before you can leave it physically.

Step 2:  Practical Preparation

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


This saying doesn’t just apply to what you do at work, it also applies to what you do when getting ready for your vacation.

Like the runner in the race, do you have a pre-vacation check list for work?

If you don’t, you are likely to be bothered by the “did I” afterthoughts, that will at first poke at you and then grow into a distracting concern.

I am talking about the kind of nagging, peace-robbing thoughts similar to those we have after leaving the house. You know which ones . . . did I turn off the iron or close the garage door?

To keep the “did I” afterthoughts to a minimum, here is what you can do:

  • Designate a back-up contact at your office while you are away. This person will be the one who will handle all of your calls, e-mails as well as any co-worker or client requirements in your absence.
  • 1 week before your scheduled departure day, create a new voice mail message, indicating that you will be away from the office during this period, and to contact this person during your absence.
  • The day before you leave the office, set-up an out of office auto-reply on your e-mail with your back-up contact’s coordinates.
  • Clean your office and desk or workspace before you go. This way if someone needs access to a file or any additional information, they will not have to go on a search-and-rescue type mission to find it.
  • You should leave a list of your passwords with your manager or trusted co-worker, in the event that they need to access your system.
  • Finally, provide your back-up contact with an emergency only number for them to reach you. However, resist the temptation to use your mobile device to check in with the office. In short, treat it like the Bat Phone in Commissioner Gordon’s office. You only pick it up when the phone rings.

Step 3: Just Do It!

Have you scheduled your vacation and are you ready to go? Check!

Have you prepared for your departure, including briefing your back-up contact and letting everyone know that you will be away? Check!

So there is just one question . . . what’s holding you back? Absolutely nothing.

vacation door

Whether we want to believe it or not, the world will not stop rotating on its axis when we are away.

Need further incentive to embrace the vacation mindset?

Here are two things to keep in mind:

  • Taking time off – really taking time off – both physically and mentally will enable you to recharge your batteries and come back to work refreshed and reenergized.
  • Taking time off to pursue and enjoy your personal interests, will benefit your overall sense of well being and your health. A vacation is the ultimate work-life balance formula.

If all Else Fails . . .

Still not convinced that you should not only take, but enjoy a vacation?

Then check out this recent Harvard Business Review article titled “The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire For People and for Companies.”

As you will note, there are a myriad of studies that report the following:

  • There is no evidence to support that those employees who work longer hours produced or accomplished more than those who didn’t.
  • The longer the hours you work – even if you really enjoy your job, the more likely you will make mistakes.

In the end, overwork – including not taking time off to tune out the office and truly enjoy your vacation will inevitably produce “diminishing returns.”

So if you won’t take a vacation for yourself, then do it for your company. They will appreciate it!

Best wishes


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