I like to come across as an easygoing traveller. I try not to be that person you see re-packing bulging suitcases at baggage check-in, or the sunburnt tourist who queues at the air plane gate 3 hours before boarding. But it’s all an act with me really. I'm actually very uptight when travelling, especially if I'm worried about missing a connecting flight. Turns out though that this anxiety of mine is only shared by about 33% of British holidaymakers.
New research led by www.sunshine.co.uk has revealed that falling behind at work is now the top concern for Britons when going on holiday abroad. Being apprehensive about flying and accidentally forgetting something completed the top three list of the worst holiday anxieties.
As part of an ongoing project looking into holiday experiences of Britons, 2,178 UK adults, all of whom had been on holidays within the last year, took part in a poll that looked to find what peoples biggest worries are on the run up to their holiday.
Everyone taking part was asked the same opening question of: ‘when you last went on holiday abroad, did you have any worries or anxieties leading up to the trip or during your break?’ To this question, 78% of people replied that they did have concerns. These people were then asked what tended to worry them most when going away on holiday (they could select more than one answer). The top 10 holiday anxieties revealed in response to this opening question are as follows:
1. Falling behind at work – 67%
2. Apprehensive about flying – 51%
3. Accidentally forgetting something – 48%
4. Holiday illnesses- 45%
5. Feeling lost/out of place (not speaking language etc.) – 36%
6. Missing transfers/connections – 33%
7. Anxious about the weather not being good – 31%
8. Getting sunburn – 28%
9. Running out of money/overspending – 27%
10. Body insecurities – 25%
But, why are so many Britons plagued by these anxieties? Well firstly, I think it’s because we’re British really – we’re naturally a pretty uptight bunch. Aside from this common stereotype though, I think it’s also because when we book our summer holidays we always want it to be perfect. When you want something to be perfect, you’re always worried of what can potentially get in the way of this.
Chris Clarkson, the MD of sunshine.co.uk seems to echo this point:
“People often put a lot of pressure on themselves to make sure their holidays are as perfect as they imagined or were hoping for, but it’s really not necessary. As long as you are well prepared for your trip and take some time to sit down beforehand to create a list of everything that needs doing and packing before you go, everything is more often than not absolutely fine.” Thanks Chris.
So in light of this, here are some top tips to help you avoid falling behind at work and undoing all that good that your holiday has made.
Your out-of-office response
Your out-of-office response is the work equivalent to your holiday sun cream; it’s your first-line of defence. Your auto-reply needs to be straightforward and honest. It might also be worthwhile to leave this response on for a couple of days once you return to work. Doing this will help stem the number of outside enquiries and lower the expectation of an immediate response. What’s more, your work colleagues will know you’re back so you’ll have to deal with all of their questions before you can deal with external enquiries.
In the body of this out-of-office response you should include details of who to contact and add that it’s okay for people to follow up at a later date with you (to ensure you actually get their email). Remember that everyone knows how many emails you receive when you’re away, so it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest the follow up.
Don’t just plan your departure
Tidying your desk before you leave for your break is just part of the holiday ritual, but few of us focus on treating our return as something that needs to be managed as well. I’m sure this is probably the last thing on your mind, but think of how much you’ll appreciate this preparation when your holiday comes to an end.
Plan your return by setting aside time to catch up, in the same way as you would in preparation for a meeting or presentation. By blocking off time in your calendar you can ensure that co-workers aren't going to give you things to do during this period - you’re too busy meeting with the things you've missed while on holiday.
I've also come across the suggestion that you could book off an additional day at the end of your holiday. If you return from being abroad on Saturday instead of Sunday, then it will allow you to get a head start on emails. It also means that you can get sorted out more fully and lessen the impact that the first (dreaded) day back at work will bring. It might mean sacrificing your final day of holiday, but if this ‘catch-up day’ is going to remove anxiety from the rest of your time off then it’s probably worth it.
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We all have those questions that people come to us with. By anticipating what questions people normally ask you (no matter how mundane they are) you can create a list of personal FAQ. Doing this will mean that you remain undisturbed on holiday and also prevent your time from being wasted by a long list of questions that could easily have been answered before you return to work.
You could also designate a co-worker to make decisions on your behalf for broader issues that your FAQ doesn’t cover. If this though worries you, then why not let your colleague know any exceptional instances that you would like to be contacted over whilst you’re away.
But most importantly…
You can rely on your co-workers and should understand that it’s inevitable that you’re going to miss out on a few opportunities. We all have this idea that we should try and be indispensable, but often this can be detrimental in the long-run. Remember that a holiday is a break and you’re productivity will likely be far greater when you return to work. Sometimes you just need to switch off and remember that it’s your holiday. Chill out.