Well, the summer break is almost over. It is hard to believe that next week takes us into September, and a busy autumn before the turn of the year. Does time seem to fly by for you now? Has 2017 evaporated as you struggle to keep on top of the all the work you have to do, contacts you have to make and emails you have to reply to? It might be because you spend a little too much time on your smart phone. At this time of year, many people are ‘out of office’ but not out of reach and it can be detrimental to our work-life balance. A summer holiday should be just that – a holiday from work and time to spend time with family and friends, relaxing. So if you’re away this coming bank holiday, here are a few ideas to keep everyone happy, allowing you the luxury of a phone-free holiday.
If you are a sole trader or a new small business in the early stages of establishing a place in the market it can be very tempting to hand over your phone number ‘just in case’, only to find you are being approached on matters that could easily have been left until your return. Did you need to browse that catalogue, or answer that email from a sales rep? Is your family fed up with seeing you hassled and frazzled when you should be cooling down and spending some proper time with them? Just because roaming charges don’t apply anymore, it doesn’t mean you are under an obligation to use wi-fi. You could be putting both your health and relationships under strain unnecessarily and risk the burn out those who work for themselves dread. You may need a longer holiday from work to get over that…
So, what can you do to ensure your work-life balance is maintained at a healthy level, not just in the holidays but onwards now as the days get shorter and 2018 is with us before we know it?
- If you are having a break and have to have a phone with you, get yourself a cheap phone that can take emergency calls but can’t access the internet. Tough love! (No sneaking to an internet cafe either…)
- Remember that ‘Out of Office’ message BEFORE you leave. People are generally happy to contact you again if they know how long they should wait. If you forget to set it up and go in on a hotel pc you will inevitably be drawn into the emails already waiting for you.
- On your out of office, give an emergency contact number on which a message can be left. Ask a friend to check it for you and only send on those that really can’t wait.
- If you really are unable to give up that smartphone, at least make sure it is not beeping at you constantly. Facebook notifications, tweets, and LinkedIn connections aren’t urgent! Turn them off, along with that annoying whizzing sound that tells you an email has landed in your inbox. This applies to your weekends and evenings too, if you can manage it.
Of course, if you have prepared for your break before you go, ensuring payments are up to date, suppliers are aware of your absence and customers properly informed that normal service will be resumed on your return (giving a date when you will plug yourself back in), then your worries should be few. It is still hard to let go though, even for a week or two.
Be certain, however, that you will be more likely to return from your holiday well refreshed and raring to go again if you do take a mental break. The time flies by because we are having fewer moments of ‘down time’. You’ve earned your break – take it!