Vacations are a great way to disconnect and gain a fresh perspective. Though most people say they love to go on vacations, a majority of workers don't take advantage of their time off, and if they do, work is still a priority.
According to a recent survey by Funding Circle, a marketplace lender, many small business owners won't be taking much time off, if any at all. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed planned to take no more than five vacation days during the entire year.
Furthermore, when asked how many times work emails are checked during their vacation, approximately 30 percent of small business owners admitted to checking at least once a day, and 40 percent confessed to checking emails multiple times per day.
The impact of disconnecting
Research shows that not taking sufficient time away from your work is bad for your health. The advantages, however, are plentiful: Taking a vacation can lower stress levels, improve creativity, decrease the chance of heart disease, improve fitness and extend life expectancy, according to Matador Network.
Though you get time on the weekends to decompress, between the time you spend on family responsibilities and household needs, the weekends may not be enough, said Jon Loew, founder and CEO of video messaging platform KeepTree.
"Companies expect more from their employees than ever, so a week-long vacation is the perfect opportunity to recharge," Loew told Business News Daily. When you are out of the office for an extended period of time, it gives you the chance to reevaluate things without being distracted by day-to-day requirements."
Properly planning your vacation can help decrease your stress level as you exit the office for your time away. Plan the amount of work you need to get finished before you leave and create a succinct, out-of-office message, said Alex Moore, CEO of Boomerang.
"At minimum, it should include who to contact for urgent matters while you're away, how long you'll be away and how disconnected from email you will be," Moore said. "I also recommend including a note that if something is important but non-urgent, the sender should email you again after you return so that you can give it prompt attention." Additionally, you must plan ahead for how to recover from a filled inbox when you return.
"Handling everything you missed the night you get back is a recipe for undoing all of the relaxation your vacation provided," Moore said. "Create a plan to work through your message backlog over several days when you get back, going from newest to oldest, since [the] oldest mail is the least likely to still need your attention."
It can be tempting to check your work email while you're away, especially if you're used to doing so during off-hours and on weekends. The best way to prepare to completely disconnect from work before you head off for vacation is to practice it daily after you leave the office.
"People think that their cell phones provide them with freedom, but it's actually a tether that keeps a work-related stimulus flowing to our brains," said KeepTree's Loew. "I block off time, particularly when I first get home, so I can focus on my family. After everyone else goes to sleep, I’ll check my email one last time."
As a boss, you can lead by example and encourage employees to disconnect, as well.
"I always suggest to employees that they avoid checking email during their vacation," Loew said. "I tell them if it's something urgent that only they can help with, we will call them."
For more tips on how to unplug and enjoy your time off, check out Business News Daily's video on Facebook.