There are many debates surrounding the idea of working in our leisure time. Most people believe it’s purely harmful and ruins our mental health. Seriously, if I get a dollar every time I hear or read about how terrible it is to work on your day off, I’d be rich by now. But a small group timidly suggests that it depends on how we use our free time. Let’s explore this issue and check how to stay in touch with the office during leisure time without harming your work-life balance.
Work vs. Leisure, or Work and Leisure?
There is one undisputedly true statement – we must find the time and space to take a rest from our work duties. Being constantly plugged in will lead to burnout sooner or later. And it’s not only about the physical and mental exhaustion but also about our relationships and social life. We need time to recharge our batteries to be more productive when we’re back at work.
But this statement isn’t contradictory to working on vacation. In her New York Times essay, Laura Vanderkam argues that “loosening up the vacation vs. work binary opens up possibilities for living in new ways”. In other words, we should stop considering work and leisure time as two opposite activities. Instead, we should try to find a middle ground and use our free time in a way that benefits both our professional and personal life. All in all, if you enjoy your work, why not stay in touch with it during your vacation?
Understand Your Motivations
Everything is a matter of your motivation and self-consciousness. According to Passport Photo Online’s study, 68% of vacationers use their smartphones for work when traveling. Is it immianently wrong? I would risk it to and say “no”. It’s a neutral statement. We should dig deeper and understand their motivations to uncover what’s behind it.
In this place, I’d like to be fair and underline some alarming statistics from the study that cannot be ignored:
- 62% of surveyed vacationers claim that using smartphones makes them unable to recharge their batteries,
- 60% admitted their bosses expected them to stay connected during leisure time,
- 55% feel intrinsic pressure to respond to work-related emails and messages on vacation.
First and foremost, you must understand your needs, weaknesses, and triggers to avoid falling into such a trap of stress and disturbing pressure. Only then you’ll be able to find a healthy way of dealing with work during your leisure time.
To get to know yourself better, ask and honestly answer questions about what your goals and priorities are, how you feel about working on vacation, do you feel internal or external pressure to do it, or is it your decision, how will working in a leisure time affect your mental wellbeing, and so on. If your answers to these and similar questions will satisfy you, by all means, give it a go.
So, How to Stay in Touch and Still Enjoy It?
Now that we know our motivations and are aware of potential risks, it’s time to focus on how to stay in touch with the office during leisure time without harming your work-life balance.
Firstly, you should establish some basic ground rules. You can do it alone or together with your colleagues, friends, or family. The important part is to be on the same page about your expectations, needs, and limitations.
Moreover, try to be as specific as possible when setting the rules. For instance, you can agree on particular working hours or days during your vacation. Alternatively, you can develop a more sophisticated system where you’ll have some dedicated time for work, and the rest is for leisure.
You should also agree on what kind of work you’re going to do – only answer emails, make calls, or maybe even participate in video conferences? By being clear about your working hours and duties, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.
The second essential step is to find a suitable place to work. If you’re traveling, it can be a real challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of options these days. You can opt for a coworking space, rent an office, or simply work from your hotel room or apartment.
If you’re uncomfortable working in public places, you can always choose to work from home. The important thing is to find a place where you feel comfortable and can focus on your work.
The third and final step is to manage your time wisely. Time management is crucial in any situation, but it’s even more important when balancing work and leisure time.
To do that, try to create a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Of course, there will be some days when you’ll have to deviate from the plan, but having a schedule will help you stay on track and avoid working too much.
Michal Jonca is a travel, food, and trail running passionate who visited 40+ countries on four continents. He is a Travel Leader for the adventurous travel company Solisci and the Community Manager at PhotoAiD.
Only this year, he enjoyed his workation in Thailand, Turkey, and the Caucasus republics.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.