Unplug to Recharge: Tips for Successful Time Off

Time off can be an incredible benefit for you, your family, your employees, and your business. In many ways, it’s an investment in every important aspect of your life. The payoff from good unplugged time off is that everything gets better. 

Something I see often, and have experienced, is that when time off is not done well, it leaves you drained, aggravated and resentful. It can become just another form of remote work (very expensive remote work) with no clear boundaries; leaving disappointed family members, and often bringing guilt and frustration as a result of not truly taking time off.  

If you think this concept is important to your organization, consider engaging HR, IT, and/or managers. Having an extra resource to help put some of these pieces in place can be really beneficial. 

Below are a few tips I’ve found helpful for taking truly unplugged time-off. Don’t overthink it, but do be purposeful. You don’t have to do all of these things to have better time off. Doing even a couple, and doing them well can help you make progress towards unplugged time off.  



  • Get cultural buy-in: To even be able to take unplugged time off, you need the support of the people around you. Build a shared level of commitment to the importance of unplugged time off. Talk about what it means, what it looks like, and why it’s important. A great place to start building buy-in can be making sure that the rest of your team is able to take good unplugged time off as well. Consider tracking unplugged time off and making it a quarterly or annual team goal.  
  • Make a plan: As soon as you schedule time off, take a few minutes and jot down a plan for your time off. Start with 2 or 3 powerful statements about how you will know that you have had good unplugged time off. They don’t have to be perfect, but they should be specific in some way. An example could be “I will consistently be mentally and emotionally present and engaged with my family because I will leave my phone and laptop in the hotel safe whenever we’re at the resort.”  or “I will consistently be able to relax and enjoy our vacation plans because I trust that the rest of our team has it covered and I have a plan for emergencies.”  
  • Delegate, defer, decline. Requests on our time don’t stop just because you schedule time off. Identify when you need to start delegating, deferring until later, and declining new requests. Put it on your calendar. And then do it. Be ruthless with the things to which you say no. Every “yes” can be a “no” to the investment you make in yourself and others.  



  • Identify any necessary work and specify when and where you will do it: If there is work that you absolutely must do while you’re out of the office, identify it as soon as possible. A good check can be writing down what happens if you don’t do it during your time off to see if the work is really essential. Take a few minutes and ask a colleague you trust to help you make sure that there isn’t an alternative.
  • Set boundaries on working time. Determine how much time you think you will need for necessary work, and add a little bit of margin, to help you avoid having to reschedule family plans or add unexpected time away from family. Set a schedule for when you’ll be doing the work. Take a few minutes to think about how you can limit the impact of your working time on your family – review child-care schedules, meal service hours, activity schedules, etc., and be aware of commute/travel times as needed. 
  • Set work boundaries: Set and communicate clear boundaries at work with colleagues, clients and any other third parties that may be expecting to have access to you while you are out so that they can plan around your availability. Resist the urge to make yourself available for their convenience. DO NOT OFFER AVAILABILITY. In a serving profession, it’s hard to resist that urge. Remember that most people want you to have time off, but if they believe that you will be working anyway, it will make some of them feel comfortable utilizing your availability. After all, they’re not “making” you work, you’ll be working already. 
  • Set expectations with family: Set clear expectations with your family about any exceptions to your unplugged time off. Be clear about what time blocks, if any, will be set aside for work, and when and where you will work. If possible, find a place to work outside of your hotel room – it will be more productive, and sets an added physical boundary. As noted, plan a little more time than you think you’ll need – better to be done early (what a nice surprise!) than to need more time and put scheduled plans at risk. 



  • Set a good out of office email message and phone message, and have a good text response ready to go. Phone and email are straightforward, but text can be more complicated. Set an auto response if you are able to, and prepare and save a pre-written response for work related texts so that you don’t even have to think about it, just copy and paste, and it’s immediately ready to go.  
  • Give your brain somewhere to go – Plan what recharges you: Work-related neural pathways are often so strong, that if you simply plan to do nothing, your brain is likely to gravitate back to work. Even if you will just be laying on a beach, turning into a lobster, turn that into an activity that gives your brain a sense of purpose to focus on. You don’t have to go skydiving every day or swimming with sharks, or skydiving with sharks, to anchor yourself outside of work. Even having a few activities to focus on (even unstructured ones), gives your brain a better ability to stay anchored outside of work, allowing you to be more present and engaged with family.  
  • Plan work-emergency protocols: Work emergencies happen, and just knowing there’s a good plan in place can help to take your mind off of the “what ifs”. A good approach can be to have one person (especially someone who is a good gatekeeper and will push back on things that aren’t truly emergencies) who will be the only person at work who knows exactly where you are and how to get ahold of you. Communicate that to your team so that your team can bring any emergencies to that person who can then get ahold of you. 



  • Plan a buffer day: Especially if you’re traveling, plan an extra day (or maybe even two) upon your return to “recover” from your vacation and catch up on all of those household items, washing 14 loads of laundry, etc.. Catching up at work while also trying to catch up at home can leave you feeling like you need another vacation.  
  • Plan key tasks for your first few days back at work. This can be really helpful for making sure that you’ve given your brain permission to focus on your time off, and that you get off to a fast start when you bet back.  


You’ve got this – Now go have some great time off! 


No Legal Advice or Lawyer-Client Relationship

Do not send any confidential or protected information to Foreman Law LLC through our website or in any other way unless one of our attorneys authorizes you to do so. Sending confidential or other information to us will not create any lawyer-client relationship, and will not obligate us to enter such a relationship with you. Additionally, sending us that information without entering an lawyer-client relationship with us will not prevent us from representing someone else in connection with the matter in question or a related matter, and will not obligate us to keep such information confidential. By sending us an email, you confirm that you have read and understand this disclaimer.