Four Practices & Rituals for Better Time Off

vacation Jun 08, 2024

The Summer is often synonymous with time off, whether it’s a few days, a week or more. But time off doesn't necessarily mean relaxation. In fact, it's not uncommon to feel more tired afterwards, especially when returning to work confronted by a mountain of email and action items that piled up during your absence. 

Knowing that work is piling up while you are away can be a source of stress before, during and after time off. It can be hard to be present and truly unwind, when your mind wanders to your inbox, your projects, or what will be waiting for you when you get back. Today’s post explores the routines and rituals you can implement before taking time off to help you fully disconnect and enjoy your time off. 



Practice #1 - Prepare for your absence

Sometimes it feels like just making it to the start of your time off takes everything you’ve got. Who has time to plan for re-entry?

The problem? It can cost you valuable time and focus when you return. What were you working on again? Where do you need to start? What are the priorities?

That’s why we love to spend a bit of time preparing before our exit. It helps to fully detach, and feel confident on the first day back.

Here is the process we follow (and you can steal our template here):

  1. Prepare a project & document inventory - Spend a few minutes documenting what you are currently working on, and your current status for each project. Link any relevant documents you’ll need to reference to make it easy to jump back in.
  2. Capture any pending follow up items - Do you have emails you didn’t get to? Meetings you didn’t schedule? Other tactical elements you need to remember? Put them on the list as well.
  3. Jot down top priorities - Spend time thinking about where you’ll want/need to focus when you return. Write those down.
  4. Block your calendar - Block the first 60-90 minutes when you return to go through your project & document inventory, as well as your priorities. Scan your inbox for anything urgent that occurred while you were away, and think through how this might shift your plan. Review your calendar for the coming week, and make any adjustments to allow you to be effective. 
  5. Set your out of office - Remember to let people know you’re not available, and what they should do if their request is urgent. Ideally, it’s reaching out to someone else so the work doesn't just pile up.

You can do all of the above in 30 minutes or less, and it will be worth every bit of time you invest by setting you up for success when you’re back, and giving you peace of mind while you’re away. 


Practice #2 - Get rid of distractions

If your goal is to be present and enjoy your time away from work, there are a few steps that you can implement to keep distractions at bay. Here are some of our favorite tips to stay connected and in the moment.

  1. Turn off notifications - Remove your device’s pesky “pings”, they take you out of what’s happening right now. Turn your device off, turn it to silent, or turn on do not disturb. 
  2. Log out of anything you don’t want to spend quality time with - Turn off automatic email refresh for your work email, log out of news websites, social media, or whatever else you tend to get distracted by. Enjoy the peace and quiet. 
  3. Leave your devices behind - Practice putting your phone in a completely different room. If you must have it to take photos, put it on airplane mode. 

For more tips on how to set yourself up to be present, check out this blog post on how to Digital Detox


Ritual #1 - Practice being intentional

Our workdays are not the only place we can become reactive to the world around us. It can happen during our time off as well. Practice being intentional by starting off each of your days off by setting an intention for what you’d like to experience and how you’d like to feel. The ritual of setting an intention can help us stay aware and conscious of the ways in which we are (or are not) aligning to our intent. Examples of an intention are:

  • My intention for today is to genuinely connect with my family and have some analog fun
  • My intention for today is to cultivate a feeling of calm and ease in all that I do
  • My intention for today is to tune into and act on my needs


Ritual #2 - Practice gratitude

Actively practicing gratitude helps us be happier and more resilient. Incorporate gratitude in your day by reflecting on the big things, and the small things you are grateful for. Examples of how you might do this:

  • Invite everyone you are with to express what their favorite part of the day was while sharing a meal.
  • Express gratitude throughout the day. Recognize people for things you appreciate and share with them how those things made you feel.
  • Journal 1-3 things you are grateful for at the end of each day. 

Regularly practicing gratitude helps you look for things to be grateful for throughout the day, how wonderful is that? 


A little bit of planning, and some intentional rituals, can help you navigate time away with presence and ease. Go ahead, set yourself up for mindful time away! (and remember to download our vacation wind down resource)

Want a nudge to be more mindful? Grab the Mindful in 5 Phone Wallpaper!

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