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Taking a Vacation This Summer? Here's Why You Shouldn't Work During It

By Maurie Backman - Jul 7, 2019 at 9:18AM

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You deserve to get away without a laptop in tow.

Summer is a popular time to take vacation. School's not in session, schedules are more flexible, and the weather is warmer and more conducive to a wide range of activities and entertainment.

If you're taking a trip this summer, you may be planning to pack things like swimwear, sunscreen, and a comfortable pair of walking shoes. But will you also be packing your laptop?

It's common practice for workers these days to tackle job-related matters while on vacation, whether it's answering the occasional email, troubleshooting one-off technical problems, or going so far as to make progress on ongoing projects to avoid falling behind. But if you're heading away in the coming weeks, you're better off leaving that laptop at home and unplugging from work completely. Here's why.

Man typing on laptop while sitting on the beach


1. You need a real mental break

Going on vacation won't just put you in a different place physically; it should, ideally, result in a mental shift as well. The purpose of taking vacation is to get a true mental break from work, and if you don't manage to snag one, you'll risk returning to the office just as stressed and strung out as you were before you left. Talk about counterproductive.

2. You'll set a bad precedent

Your employer should respect the fact that you need a break and allow you to actually take one. But if you make a point of dealing with work matters while away, you'll set the expectation that the next time you take vacation, you'll do the same. In fact, in doing work during vacation, you may end up inevitably sentencing your colleagues to forced check-ins when it's their turn to snag a break. And that's not something you want to do.

3. You'll miss out on opportunities to enjoy your destination

Chances are, you're paying a decent sum of money for your getaway. But if you keep stopping to type emails or log into your company database, you'll eat away at the limited time you have at your destination. In doing so, you'll effectively be wasting money -- money you probably worked hard to save for your trip.

Get away without the guilt

Though you may feel compelled to handle work matters during your upcoming vacation, doing so isn't necessarily the smartest move. If you're worried that by not dealing with work issues, you'll fall behind and suffer the backlash upon your return, take steps to tackle some of your most pressing tasks ahead of time. Putting in a few extra hours during the week leading up to your vacation is better than working during it.

At the same time, enlist the help of your colleagues to serve as your backups while you're gone. That way, you won't feel compelled to respond to every email or voice mail that comes in. And if you're worried that your co-workers will be hesitant to assist, remind them that you'll be happy to return the favor when they want to take vacations of their own.

The purpose of taking vacation is to get away and enjoy yourself -- so do that, and leave work matters for when you return. That way, you'll come back to the office feeling energized, refreshed, and ready to tackle the tasks that await.

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