How to make the most of vacation time for your career

by | Jul 18, 2019

What is the best way to make the most of vacation time for your career?

We asked the experts, how should you make the most of vacation time for your career, especially when you have limited holidays but need to keep improving?

3Plus Founder Dorothy Dalton asked career experts and others on LinkedIn to chip in on how they think people like you can make the most of vacation time for your career. The question is, to best support their careers, "Should they use this time to chill and recharge, or do a bit of inner reflection on their careers?"

Dorothy told me that "the response was amazing. Olympic medallist and performance coach Joe Jacobi even responded with a video."

make the most of vacation time

Constant connectivity

We live in a world where 24/7 connectivity is becoming increasingly normal. This makes the need for down time more urgent. Research from YouGov shows that the majority (60%) of those who use email for work check their in boxes while on holiday. 25% check ‘very often’, 19% check ‘sometimes’, 16% check ‘rarely’. 40% say they never look at their emails. This is despite the fact that 80% would prefer to ‘completely switch off’ when they’re on holiday, rather than stay on top of what’s going on in the office.

Brand builder Kevin Turner refers to these as "my digital reprieves" and says "for me they work wonders." He adds "I'm a true believer in taking time to recharge. It provides me with clarity and focus. A week off on vacation is nice, but not always practical. This is especially true if you run your own business or you are an unemployed job seeker. However you can always carve out a bit of time from work. Try taking a walk with a good friend at the park, riding your bike or reading a book under a shade tree."

Sounds perfect!

When I read through the thread, there did seem to be some key elements.

Everyone is different

Dorothy added "As a career coach, I know everyone is different in the way that they recharge. Some like total disconnection. Others like to pursue a different activity. Some are comfortable with reflection, so even being in a different setting is sufficient to bring about inspiration and joy. But knowing what suits you best requires a level of self-awareness that many don't have. I think the key questions are "what works best for me?" and "what do I need right now?" That's what makes it more challenging and nuanced. It also depends on where you are in your career and what is going on for someone at any particular moment. I think these different variables were reflected in the comments I received."

Career status

Executive resume strategist, Jacqui Barrett Poindexter, emphasized; "It depends on where they are in their careers. If there's a sense of dissatisfaction, frustration or overwhelm, they may want to carve time organically (or in a planned way) to do some inner career reflection during their vacation. If they have a spouse, significant other or a confidante, then engage them in the conversation. See what ideas awaken. If there is no imminent compulsion to examine your career, however, then let it all go for the time you are away and really dive into the fullness of your vacation seas. As others alluded to here, the subconscious sometimes works on solutions to career/life problem areas when we are focused elsewhere."

Dorothy endorsed that idea. "If you are an urgent job seeker or currently unemployed, it might be better to take only a few days to relax. This can then be followed by a longer break before you start your new job. There are certain elements of job search that can be maintained on very little time a day and checking emails should be one of them. I have seen job seekers post "open for a new opportunity" on LinkedIn and not respond to an InMail for three weeks." 

If you are unsure about your career, use our free Career Reflection Worksheet.

Executive resume master, Meg Giuseppe, suggested a compromise. "I recommend stepping away completely for at least, say, a week, if you're job hunting. Although it may seem counterintuitive, clearing out thoughts and worries about landing a job is restorative. It can help you focus better in the long run on what you want, and how to get it."

Executive career storyteller, Virginia Franco, added that it isn't always straight forward, especially for freelancers and small business owners. "I just wrapped up my first week in ages of true disconnection. I found it took 3 days to stop thinking about work! In a dream world I'd never turn down the chance for a longer break, but even taking a week is tough for small business owners."

Chill and recharge to make the most of vacation time?

There were those who came out firmly on the side of disconnection. Job search coach, Vici Koster Lenhardt, said "Chill and recharge by doing things that are not available digitally. Swim under water in a pool outdoors and tickle someone’s feet, admire the stars, get a mild sunburn because of being outside too long, skip, get an uneven tan on the top of your feet because of wearing sandals all the time, embrace the heat and humidity, gaze at the ocean, fall asleep to real sounds, savor eating a summer food, nap in the shade, leave your watch at home. Stop thinking and just take it all in. There will be little time to think or read. Do bring a journal to catch all the great inspirational thoughts!"

Job search strategist Hannah Morgan agrees. "My week of being unplugged helped me become clear on who I am and what I do! I come back feeling energized and refreshed. A week is a really long time when you are unplugged! Time seemed to slow down."

Talent acquisition specialist, Ed Han, adds "I'm keen on taking an actual vacation. While I understand the need to be available in the event of crisis or emergency, colleagues or a manager who value your time off are absolutely indispensable. When my colleagues or manager are on vacation, I do my level best not to disturb them if at all possible. My expectation is that my colleagues will return the favour."

Reflection can work

Social media marketer, Tony Restell, said "I like to think about where do I want to be 5 or 10 years from now. Then I reflect on what changes I need to make today to make that a reality Dorothy. There's a danger thinking about careers to think just about your next career move or promotion. Those decisions are actually having far more long-term impacts in terms of opening up and closing off opportunities for you in the future..."

Gig economy specialist, Annabel Kaye, said "I find one leads to the other. Disconnect. Later the information just pops into my head."

Intercultural trainer and communication consultant, Vanessa Paisley, also replied. She said "the chill and recharge is definitely the first part and I do that by escaping into books and dropping routines. The self-reflection thing then comes naturally and I know what I want to do more of by the time I return."

Executive resume writer, Donna Svei, comes out unequivocally with "Just chill."

Daily habits

In his video Joe Jacobi, Olympic gold medallist and performance coach, recommends cultivating good daily habits where chilling and recharging, as well as reflection, become daily habits. See his video here. That make sense. But so few of us seem to be able to manage that.

Co-Founder Paul Moxness concurs."The idea of relaxing, recharging and restoring all our energy in one fell swoop during summer vacation is a failed philosophy, and your idea of using it to build habits that can be incorporated into daily life is excellent advice." 

So where does this leave us? Some European countries are introducing no contact after official hours into their statute books. But that is a different discussion! In the meantime, to make the most of vacation time, get into that shade or out on your bike, into the sea or lie by the pool and let us know what you think!

Career strategies are invaluable. Try our 3Plus Career Coaching for Women for guidance with your career strategy.

Staff Writer: Career Contributor
3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Job Search, Career and Mentoring or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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September 17th Latham Watkins Brussels 1200 
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Inclusive Leadership Workshop

September 20th EIGE Vilnius 0900
How to combat sexism in the workplace
Peer review of EU booklet authored by Dorothy Dalton

September 30th BD Foundation Webinar with Dorothy Dalton (online)
Topic: Leading with Emotional Intelligence
https://www.beyondiversity.com/

October 3rd JUMP Hub Brussels
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Infrabel, rue de France, 9, 1070 Brusells
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