Switching off isn't just for Christmas
Can you smell the sprouts? Christmas is nearly here! 🎅
With many of you breaking up for the festive period, your well-deserved time off is enticingly close.
Time to enjoy it.
However, the C-word raises a thought that also crops up when you take annual leave at any other point in the year: ‘should I be available?’
FOMO, guilt and panic
I can't be the only one to have experienced guilt at being on annual leave when others have a mountain of work to do – which might have increased as a result of my absence.
I was once on annual leave on the day of a trip to Parliament to fight for continued train manufacturing in Derby, having been heavily involved in organising the logistics from the outset.
I should have been enjoying my family weekend away, and while I'd done my part and knew it was in much more capable hands than my junior level at the time, I couldn't help but feel guilty for not being there with the team.
And enjoying that time off is easier said than done when your colleagues are still working and you feel like you've left people in the lurch.
It's even harder when you think you're missing out, or you don't think others can cope without you for a few days.
Spoiler alert: they can.
And before you overthinkers start panicking about not being needed at all, your colleagues being able to cope without you for a few days is not the same as if you were never there.
This mentality can also lead to the panic that sets in when you're about to come back from annual leave, as you worry you're going to have missed so much and everyone else will have moved on without you.
But really, has this ever actually happened?
There will be bizarre examples out there but, for the rest of us, everything will be the same as it was before your time off.
(Hopefully, some things have been ticked off from your handover at least!)
Yet the worry you might have can make for an overwhelming Sunday night. Don’t let it.
The COVID blur
Annual leave during COVID was the worst.
With the boundaries already blurred as we worked from home, the ability to physically and mentally remove yourself from the day-to-day was gone.
There was no stopping your commute for a few days or being able to jet off somewhere warm. You were still in your office – it just happened to be your home too.
This meant being able to properly enjoy a break was horribly difficult.
And the COVID hangover has, to some extent, continued.
Now that more of us work hybrid or permanently from home, switching off is generally harder. And if you can physically see the space where you work from while you’re off, you might find it trickier to avoid thinking about what your colleagues are doing, or the emails you’re missing.
The simplest solution is never to install anything work-related on personal phones, or at the very least turn off all of the notifications for said apps.
And if you have a work phone – even better – switch on airplane mode and chuck it in the drawer for a week or so.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a home office, then treat it like you would your actual work HQ and avoid it. If you don’t, make the effort – where you can – to put away everything and anything work-related.
Even the mugs and hoodies!
If you don’t, you might find yourself saying…
I'm just checking in
Yeah, this was me.
Many people reading it will agree too!
Hi, if you were someone who used to tell me to “Stop. Checking. Your. Emails.” You know who you are – thank you!
It's not big and it's not clever.
I’d read my emails when I was away; even worse I'd often reply to those same emails, or team chats.
I definitely fell into the FOMO or ‘I know best’ camp, and thought no one else would be able to answer the question – particularly when I managed clients.
A good trait of trying to be helpful, going beyond the pail and becoming a bad one.
I can look back and shake my head at the thought of replying to clients while I was on a sun lounger, with some very caring colleagues giving me a well-deserved bollocking.
It creates a perception that you're available on any day, at any time, which doesn't come with the kudos you think it does when you're younger.
Simply, don’t do it.
How annual leave should be
Annual leave does not diminish your value or skills.
It should be cherished and enjoyed, and completely work-free!
Having that well-earned break is not just for Christmas – it applies every single time you're off.
And it should always be guilt-free.