I often get asked by leaders how to shut down, turn off, and unplug during the holidays or for that matter any vacation time.  With 24/7 demands of business never ending, how do we relax, decompress and unwind?  What I don’t believe in are those leaders who tell me, “I just can’t – I have to be available at all times.”  To that I say, “B#$@ S*^t!!”

Does your company have a vacation policy?  Does the vacation policy say, time off means answering emails around the clock, writing proposals, making client calls, and solving intricate problems?  It does not.  Vacation time is just that vacation and as leaders we have the responsibility to be a role model to our companies and teams on taking time off, relaxing, unwinding.  So, how do you do this?

4 Ways To Unplug

  1. Delegate, delegate, and delegate.  Ensure key, important tasks that must take place while you are out have been delegated to team members.  This will empower your team to take on increased responsibilities and show you they too can do a stellar job.
  2. Provide guidelines.  Sure, there are things that pop up while you are away that very well might need your attention, immediately.  Tell your team how to reach you – by text or telephone – and that you are not reading emails all day long.
  3. Limit checking email. Ok, let’s get to it.  Check your email, if you must, two times per day and do not respond. Why? Because you will have an auto-reply message on saying when you are returning.  If someone needs something urgently, they can either a) contact a team member, or b) call you directly on your mobile. Again, your auto-reply message will direct the sender to these options. Pretty easy, huh?!
  4. Have fun.  I remember once I was in Cancun on my way to a resort and a guy in the van was on his cell phone the entire time.  We had just gotten there, it was 80° out and gorgeous.  His wife looked miserable.  They were not going to have fun.  Please, have fun during your downtime.  Enjoy, laugh, relax, de-stress.

When you don’t do what I’ve suggested above you come back from time away the same way you did when you left – amped up, stressed, and well, not relaxed.  These leaders are saying, “I need a vacation” the day after they come back.

You have a responsibility to set an example.  To demonstrate that it is not all work and no play.  That the vacation policy really means something – that is fact, not fiction and you mean it.  Because as a key leader you either wrote it or approved it.  Leaders who practice regular time off, truly unplug, relax, and enjoy are empowered leaders.  [Tweet “Leaders who practice regular time off, truly unplug, relax, and enjoy are empowered leaders.”] They are role models for their teams, and at the end of the day, run great businesses.

If you need even more encouragement to unplug, you can always join Arianna Huffington in her Unplugging Challenge starting on December 23rd.  I would love to hear what you do to unplug, and really take time off during the holidays or any time for that matter.

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As the CEO & Founder of East Tenth Group, Michelle leverages 25 years of business and experience as a strategic advisor and executive coach to help drive actionable people solutions and provide practical insights on business strategy to senior leaders. she and her team and are fiercely committed to the development and growth of people and companies because we believe that when people thrive, business thrives.

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