One of the signs of a healthy organization is how employees are encouraged to take time off. Companies that make it difficult for employees to take time off, including companies that visibly struggle when certain employees are out of the office, fail to understand that their best resource is their people. Unfortunately, churches are notorious for not providing enough time off (or giving the same vacation time as secular companies while requiring their employees to work 80+ hours a week). Furthermore, ministers are notorious workaholics. That’s understandable since it requires a certain personality to sign up to work all hours and be the person on call when other people experience the worst moments of their lives. However, because of this, ministers have a hard time getting away from their work. Perhaps the next generation of ministers will figure out work-life balance better than being either a workaholic or a slacker. In the meantime, let’s talk about tips for good vacations!
- Set organizational expectations. I’m of the opinion that everyone should know when you’re on vacation because it creates a natural defense barrier. The more people who know you’re away, the fewer that will send emails needing timely responses. Make every effort to tie off loose ends before you leave, or to set deadlines far enough away from the conclusion of a vacation that you won’t be tempted to work on your vacation.
- Create an environment for success while you’re out. Too many employees think it validates their existence to make themselves irreplaceable. That logic leads to two negative consequences. First, if the company discourages you from taking time off because too many things depend solely on you, you won’t take time and you’ll eventually burn out. Second, if you take time away and things consistently fall apart in your absence, the company may decide to replace you with someone who leaves them in better shape on a regular basis.
- Decide what recharges your batteries (spiritually, physically, and emotionally) and focus on those things. I know someone who spends a lot of time reading on the beach. While boring to some, it’s close to heaven for her. I like to be around my extended family. It’s not work for me, as it might be for others. Be wary of taking vacations to accomplish things that seem like work because they are draining to you. My friend’s term for that is “mandatory fun.” And it’s usually not.
- Detach! I generally don’t check my email while I’m away from the office, and I never call in to check messages. If something is that important, my employer can easily get in touch with me. Some people need to go completely “off the grid” and leave their electronics behind because of the work-related temptation. Know yourself, know your temptations, and plan accordingly. (If you really need some email management help while on vacation, Michael Hyatt has a useful blog to help you.)
- Plan your reentry. I’m a guy who likes to squeeze every last drop out of his vacation, so I want the first flight out and the last flight back. My wife likes a more casual reentry, and I have friends that come back a full day before they have any plans just to ease back into their routine. Again, know yourself, and plan accordingly. Don’t undo the benefits of your vacation by having a bad reentry.