The holiday season is a magical time of year filled with family, friends, traditions, and well-needed vacation time. However, the days you set aside for celebration can quickly become overrun with urgent emails and impromptu conference calls from your office miles away. Trying to find a balance between work availability and vacation boundaries can be difficult, and most people ultimately give in to their frenzied coworkers’ needs. Reclaim your holiday season this year with these tips on maintaining work-life balance.

 

Talk with your coworkers and manager ahead of time

    A few weeks before you leave for vacation, talk with your coworkers about any assignments that may need your attention while you are away. This can help you all to resolve any issues before they arise, giving you the peace of mind to enjoy the holiday without the fear of an office meltdown. Also, depending on how your coworkers and/or manager usually treat you during days off, express to them how you would like a relatively work-free vacation and ask how you can make this possible before leaving. Bringing this to their attention beforehand ensures that there will be no surprises when you are less available during your vacation than usual.

Get ahead on your projects

    Before you leave for the holidays, try to work ahead on any projects with deadlines or target dates immediately before, during, or directly after your vacation days. This creates a cushion around your work life, allowing you to relax without the nagging fear of falling behind on a task. This will also limit the likelihood of last-minute requests since everything that should have been done was completed before you left. And if you get stuck in the vacation zone because of inclement weather or a spontaneous decision to extend your vacation, your project timeline will not unravel completely.

Don’t check your work email in the morning

    This tip is extra important and can set the tone for your entire vacation. Checking your work email in the morning subconsciously reminds you that work is the priority when celebration or relaxation should be top of mind. Additionally, if there’s an urgent message waiting for your response, it’ll take over your thoughts until you address it. There’s little hope for a truly relaxing day once you know there’s a problem you’ll eventually have to solve.

Set aside specific time for work

    However, if the idea of a completely work-free vacation is unimaginable for you, consider factoring in a specific time during your holiday for work. Usually, it is best to set aside a few minutes at the end of your day to check in on any work projects. This helps you stay up-to-date without allowing work to consume an otherwise leisurely day. Also, if something does require your immediate response, bringing to your attention a few hours late on the same-day is far less problematic then waiting for a specific “work day” or until you return home.

 Genuinely enjoy your time off

    Most people are less certain of when their next vacation will be, but work is always there! While you are on vacation, be intentional about using the time away as a chance to renew your mind, body, and spirit. This year was one full of growth, disappointment, trial, and triumph—you deserve a reward for the hard work you put in to advance your career and follow your dreams. The holidays are a season for reflection and celebration, don’t allow a job to take that away from you.