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#322: Come back from your vacation without stress waiting for you
How I avoid the inbox full of unread and unwanted emails, and the lesson I learned from The Cosby Show.
It is coming up to that time of year, SUMMER VACATION Season!
Remember how it was to be a kid? Take off three months and have fun, not a care in the world. Returning to school in the fall, you just started where you left off. As leaders, we are always on. We never actually leave and start up gain. If you go for too long, things will drop through the cracks. So, how do you get a chance to relax?
This reminds me of an episode of The Cosby Show. Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) decided not to return to college in September. She sat down to talk with Mom and Dad and told them she was ready to be an adult and didn’t want to waste time in school. She was making a case that she could be responsible for herself. When Dr. Huxtable asked what she had been doing over the last three months of preparing for this, she answered,
I didn’t do anything; I was on summer vacation!
When is it okay to take a break? And how long is it okay to go without checking email or voicemail? I believe that we all need to take time away, and as Steven Covey states, “sharpen the saw,” but the real question I see people struggling with is how long? How can I walk away from my business for a week or two without addressing concerns with the organization? Speaking for myself, I have never been able to walk away for more than a day; does that make me a workaholic?
In my past life, I worked with Europeans, and it is in their culture to walk away for weeks, let alone days. Shut off the cell, laptop, and phone, and do not respond to anything. I don’t know how they do it or how they handle the stress of returning to an email inbox with hundreds, if not thousands, of unanswered emails. In my first-ever management meeting with the team, I listened to them tell me about their upcoming four weeks in Italy or six in Thailand. Not understanding the culture then, I asked how to contact them if there were any questions or concerns. Every one of them said it wouldn’t be possible. Being a bit naive at the time, I told them the following.
You’re lucky you aren’t working for me in the US. Because if I didn’t need you for those six weeks, I wouldn’t need you for the rest of the year.
Maybe not the best thing to say after only three months with the company, but I grew on them over the next twenty years. They knew they could get in touch with me 365 days a year. They grew to learn that I checked my mail every morning, whether it was a weekend or while I was on vacation. I spent 15-30 minutes addressing anything that needed my input. Getting those things off my plate, I could take the rest of the day and enjoy it, knowing nothing I overlooked.
How do you relax? What do you feel like that first day back in the office after an extended downtime? Are you anxious about what awaits you, or are you excited to get back to it knowing all the fires are under control?
There is no best way to work, and this is only my suggestion that goes along with my tagline; it’s hard work today, but it will lead to a better tomorrow!
Enjoy your summer, and let me know in the comments what your tricks are! If you are struggling with work/life balance, set up a Free 30-minute call with me today!