Step Away From the Inbox! 5 Tips for Taking Time Off From Work

In today’s world of real-time technology, growing remote workforces and 24/7 accessibility, boundaries between work and play have never been blurrier. Shutting down can seem like a luxury. Finance and accounting professionals may feel taking a vacation could hurt their careers or endanger the well-being of their department or organization. However, taking time off from work is necessary to renew and recharge, so that you can be a more productive — and happier — manager or team member when you return.

If your texting finger twitches in your sleep or you dream of spreadsheets, shutting down will require some preparation. Here are five tips for disconnecting from your email, smartphone, laptop and work worries while on vacation.   

1. Shout your vacation plans from the rooftop. Update your outgoing voicemail message, set up an out-of-office email reply and let colleagues and clients know you’re taking time off from work. By bringing everyone up to speed, you’ll avoid any unpleasant surprises or misunderstandings during your absence. Set this groundwork before shutting down to help cast off any doubts or guilt about your vacation.

2. Designate specific check-in times. If you do plan to make yourself available by phone during vacation, tell your coworkers or employees the exact times you can be reached. Avoid making calls outside of those windows, and maintain your policy of not checking email. If you answer only a select few emails and ignore the rest, you could send confusing (and possibly insulting) messages to colleagues, employees or clients.

3. Clarify exceptions to the rule. Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a crisis. If you plan on shutting down completely, except for emergencies, be sure to define what “emergency” means to you. Have a premonition that a particular issue might arise? Let your backups know and leave a list of resolution options so they’re prepared. If you’re interrupted mid-vacation for an issue you deem trivial or could have handled preemptively, your attempts at rest will be foiled.

4. Distribute your workload to a few different coworkers. If you’re a manager, it’s good practice to tactfully delegate responsibilities evenly among your team, to avoid burning out one employee in particular. Also, a replacement staff of one isn’t much use when that employee gets sick or has a family emergency. If your workload is too heavy for your employees to handle or you’re taking time off during peak vacation season, consider bringing in temporary accounting staff. By doing so, you can shed worries about compromising day-to-day business concerns or imposing undue stress on your team while you’re out of the office. 

5. Prepare now so your reboot has a lasting effect after vacation. Mentally shutting down requires planning. The thought of a mountain of budget reports on your desk can loom large in the back of your mind and hinder your ability to kick back during your break. Clear your desk before you pack your bags and set off, and do the same with your schedule. Rather than planning back-to-back meetings for the day you return, spread them out over a week so you won’t dread coming back to the office.

Occasionally shutting down allows you a full mind and body recharge, which enhances your work productivity, job satisfaction and overall quality of life. To avoid work-related stress impeding your relaxation efforts, make sure you have good team coverage. Clearing your mind while taking time off from work may be as simple as clearing your workspace before you trade out dress shoes for flip-flops. 

Related article: Time Off: How Accounting and Finance Professionals Can Unplug to Recharge