I just returned from my extended summer holidays – eight and half weeks of combined parental leave and vacation. What made it special is that I took the work-life -balance to heart and did nothing work related during that time.
- no skimming through emails
- no reading the intranet “just in case”
- no keeping in touch with projects
- and no discussing work-related stuff with peers
I decided to push my younger one’s daycare a few weeks into the future, and stay the whole summer at home taking care of my kids. I’m a bit of a workaholic and easily distracted, so I didn’t want my work to suck up the time that I was supposed to use on my offspring.
The task of “not working” would not have been easy for me had I not prepared for it.
A graceful exit
I started taking a note of the stuff that was dependant on me a few weeks before the holidays. I then arranged for someone else to handle anything that would need to be sorted during my absence (mostly managerial stuff like billing). I also finished the tasks I was working on and checked that the project teams I worked in knew who to contact if they needed help. Generally, I just told people that if something was burning and there was no one qualified to put the fire out to contact me by phone (no one did).
On the last day before leaving for my holidays I used a password generator to create a new password for Active Directory and Slack with completely random letters/numbers and I pressed enter. I could not access my laptop, my mail, slack, intranet, nothing, and that was good as I had no intention to during the next 8 or so weeks. The passwords could be reset in the office premises when required (lesson learned here: on a Mac this is not as easy a process as I thought).
I did not aim to isolate myself from my co-workers; I did it to remove unnecessary distractions so I could spend quality time with my kids. I did attend our summer party (Gibiza!) and even spent half an evening at our Gofore Helsinki penthouse when I was having a boys night out in the area. At those events, everyone was courteous enough to not discuss work-related issues with a vacationer, and not so surprisingly, there was still a lot to talk about.
Personally, I think that the act of actually having a holiday on your holiday is the best thing since sliced bread. But it’s not for everyone. Even if you would like to keep your distance from work, it might not be possible. The reason I was able to enjoy my holidays in peace was not because I threatened people that I would be a total dick if disturbed, but because of the strength of our organisation. Goforeans, in general, are really eager to help and as competencies overlap there is always someone else to turn to. This meant that I could relax knowing that no project or customer would have been left in distress as there would be someone who would step in and help.