Have you ever wondered what the best tips are for preparing for and returning from vacation - that is, a vacation that allows a real get away but that doesn’t leave you constantly checking in while you’re away, or overwhelmed with catch-up tasks when you return?  Here are my top four tips for you:

  1. Take an entire day ‘off’ before you even leave.  I am really big on taking a day as you leave to make sure you get the word out so that 1) everyone knows you’ll be gone, 2) you clean up what HAS to be cleaned up, 3) you set up systems to let people know you’ll be unavailable, etc.  Don’t schedule any meetings, get togethers, appointments, or otherwise on this ‘day before you leave’ day.  Use the entire day to professionally and personally prepare to be gone.
  1. Likewise, set aside an entire day the day you come back to re-enter.  On your re-entry day, deal with the email, return phone calls, unpack, do wash, go through mail, etc.  DO NOT schedule any meetings or appointments on that day.  Consider this a day to be a day where you are technically “back”…but you’re not “back” on anyone else’s schedule.  It’s a day where you attend to as many items as possible that came in while you were gone.  This allows a much smoother and less stressful return.
  1. Know that ‘real people really do take a vacation.’  This is a big one and I’m finally ‘getting’ this.  For those of us who love our work, are committed to our work…and are somehow inextricably connected to our work, we need to come to a realization that taking time off is not only OK, but is a great idea!  Real people do unplug and do not check email or voice mail…and it’s OK.  When I went with my husband to his 50th high school reunion a while back, it just wasn’t reasonable for me to be ‘working’ while I was there. The poor man gets little enough of me and I just had to bonk myself on the side of the head and recognize that it is acceptable not  to answer emails or phone messages. The same was true when I went to visit my mom in the last couple of years of her life - my main focus when I was there had to be her. If I got anything else done, that’s good, but I learned not to plan that so I’m not disappointed.
  1. Know deep within that you will be more effective, focused, and productive if you take the time off. Really off.  Just sit or walk or swim or smell or whatever is the right thing, but nothing even resembling work. Your mind needs a rest and I’m sure your body does, too.

Now, go have a great time!

And if traveling (for conferences, vacation, or otherwise) is just one area that overwhelms you - and you would like to be ‘just whelmed,’ then you’re invited to join others (worldwide) who receive Meggin’s “Wee” Weekly Workshops at I Want to Be Just Whelmed (http://www.JustWhelmed.com)

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