How I Prepare To Take A Break

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Until last year, I wasn’t very good at taking a break. I was always the person typing blog posts on the plane or answering emails in a fancy restaurant. It would take me 3 or 4 days to really relax into a holiday, and I’d always spend the last few days of the trip worrying about the return to work.

I’d still enjoy my holidays, don’t get me wrong. But I never treated them as real breaks. I’d still be working away, just with a slightly different backdrop.

That was until Sam and I headed off on our West Coast road trip last summer. We took two full weeks off work, and for the first time in a very long time, I truly switched off. There was no guilt, no guilt, no panic about what could be happening in the office - just pure relaxation and lots of time spent living life in the moment. It was bliss.

Ever since then I’ve tried to treat my holidays and time off work as a proper break from reality. It hasn’t always been easy to tame my workaholic tendencies, but it’s always been worth it, and I’ve picked up some tips along the way. I thought I’d share them with you all today in case you too could benefit - here’s how I prepare to take a break...

Wind things down slowly

Hands up if you’ve ever tried to cram so much into the last few weeks before a holiday that you end up going away feeling run down and completely exhausted? No shame here - I too have got both hands firmly in the air. For such a long time holidays have been a bit of a stressful event in the calendar, a roadblock to work around when it came to my to do list. I’d always try to get just as much done despite the days out of the office, and as a result I’d end up feeling burnt out after a break, rather than rejuvenated.

I can see now just how silly that approach is. You’re never going to manage two weeks of work in one without making yourself ill, and the to do list will never quite be done. The attitude I take now is to wind things down slowly - handing over any vital projects to members of my team, and trusting that the rest can wait until I get back.

Set expectations and boundaries

I think perhaps my best tip when it comes to taking a break is to set some clear expectations and boundaries so that people can know what to expect while you’re gone. For me that means keeping my team informed of what they can do to help keep things ticking over in my absence, letting my readers and listeners know what my plans are for the blog and podcast, and setting a clear and concise out of office. The clearer you can be the better - that way you don’t have to worry about any misunderstandings while you’re away.

On that note - there won’t be any new posts up here on the blog for the next week or so, and both my podcast and my newsletter will be taking a two week break. But don’t worry - I’ll hopefully be writing lots while we’re away, so there’ll be plenty of new content around here soon!

Think about your future self

When I’m preparing to take a trip, I always like to keep my future self in mind and think about what I can do now to make life easier when I get back from my holiday. That means leaving our house clean and tidy, writing myself a to do list so that I don’t forget anything urgent when I get back to work, and making sure I have a little bit of time to rest and recover from my travels before getting straight back to reality.

Knowing that I can gently ease back in to normal life on my return helps me to switch off more quickly, and it means that the last few days of the trip aren’t clouded with fear and anxiety. There’s nothing worse than sitting on the flight or drive home knowing that you’ll be getting back to a messy house and an urgent to do list!

How do you prepare when you’re taking a break? Do you have any tips to share?