How to disconnect from work and enjoy your downtime

Whether it’s been a busy time at work, or you just feel mentally exhausted from social events this year, it's never been more important to give yourself a much-needed Christmas break. While the week between Christmas and New Year is supposed to be a time to relax and unwind, for many, it can be difficult to unplug from work.

That’s why Professor Sir Cary Cooper, Advisory Board Member at Delamere, shares some tips on how to switch off from work and what managers can do to prevent employees from feeling burnout. 

Switch off notifications

If you have notifications going to your phone consistently throughout the day including work emails, Slack or Microsoft Teams, make sure to switch the pop-ups off while you are taking a much-needed break.

Having the temptation to check emails constantly while you are off makes it harder to fully disconnect from your work life when you are trying to catch up with friends and family. If switching off notifications doesn’t work for you, it might be an idea to delete any work-related apps to stop you from checking in on what’s going on while you are off.

Tackle your to-do list

For those that work full time, the chances are you have a long list of life admin that is patiently waiting in the corner for you until you have time to look at it.

Annual leave can be the perfect time to tackle your to-do list that has been piling up, so start with the things that are the most important and have been sitting for a few more weeks than you like. Not only will you feel like you’ve checked off a few things that you’ve been meaning to do, but you’ll also be able to distract yourself from work.

Draw a line under anything you’ve been working on

Sometimes the best way to forget about work in your personal time is to draw a line under anything you have been working on. 

This means not leaving any pieces of work half-finished and making sure you are on top of your inbox before you clock off.  Having everything boxed off will not only reduce anxiety while you are trying to relax but will also mean you come back to work feeling like it's manageable.

Set up an out of office

An easy way to switch off from work is to set up an out of office on your email address. This will let managers and anybody who usually tries to contact you know that you won’t be checking your inbox while on annual leave or late into the evening. 

Once this is set up, assure yourself that people will see your out of the office and stick to it, so you don’t feel that you need to keep checking your emails.

Manage expectations

If you are planning on taking annual leave, then it’s important that you manage the expectations of your managers, clients and staff, by telling them as early as possible when you intend to be out of the office.

To fully switch off, it is also important that you manage the expectations of your family and friends as well as work colleagues that might contribute to your work life. If you find it difficult to take time away from your job, remind loved ones that you are trying to relax and any talk of work might make you stressed.