Coming up, as we are, on the official end of summer, I’m probably a little late writing this particular article. I think, however, that this research has implications beyond vacations. According to a survey I ran across these are the biggest vacation mistakes workers make:
- Took off too little time 43%
- Kept thinking about work 17%
- Checked in with the office too much 8%
- Didn’t organize well before leaving 7%
Do these mistakes have relevance to an ordinary work day? Look at the biggest mistake: taking off too little time. The corollary of course is working too darn much. If you’re like me, you’re vexed because you really fundamentally like what you do; it is hard to separate work from play. But you might find that you play too little out of habit and convenience. You just find it is easier to work. Your mental, physical and relational health are adversely affected, but you barely notice because you are comfortable working too much.
What about thinking about work when you’re not working? This is a problem for many people on a typical evening or weekend. Granted there are ideas that bubble up from the subconscious at odd times, the real problem is obsession and preoccupation. Thoughts of work dominate your off-time conversations with family and friends. You interrupt a good book or movie with anxieties around work-related issues. Your spouse notices you zoning out and asks you why.
You get the idea.
Checking in with the office seems like a good idea. More likely it is either an insecurity or control issue. I advocate being reasonably available-to your colleagues and your customers-but think about it: if they really need you, won’t they be able to track you down? “Checking in” means you are making yourself available to situations that really aren’t time- or person-sensitive.
The final mistake, nearly tied with checking in, is not being well organized before leaving on vacation. I can predict whether you’ll be organized for vacation based on this question: are you organized for the next business day? One of the biggest improvements you can make to your professional life is to take a few moments at the end of each day and each week to prepare for the day and week ahead. Being unorganized doesn’t sneak up on you. You’re either organized or you’re not.
Leadship Lesson: By avoiding the biggest vacation mistakes that workers make you’ll most likely avoid the corollary mistakes that employees and their leaders make each day.