How to Stop Working on Vacation

How to Stop Working on Vacation

Kate Roberts

Let’s be honest—we all love vacation. But here’s the problem: with the advancement of phones, Zoom, email, Slack, and all the different ways you can be contacted, we tend not to actually take a real vacation. More often than not, we’re still working on vacation—we’ll answer emails, we’ll take calls, and we’ll even take meetings.

According to a study that LinkedIn did in 2018, 51% of people don’t use all of their allotted vacation days in a year, and 70% (!!) of professionals admit that they don’t stop working while on vacation.

So how do you battle the urge to work on your time off?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Reframe the narrative

If you’re like us here at Content Callout, you live and die by your calendar. So put your time off in your calendar, schedule it, and make it an appointment you can’t miss. The visual reminder from your calendar is an excellent way for you to reset your mind and remind yourself that the time off is vital and that it’s required for you.


  • Go to a phone-free zone

Hear me out—I know it sounds terrifying, but one of the best vacations I ever went on was one where I couldn’t access my phone. I was in Malaysia, on a family trip, in 2010, and I couldn’t get an international data plan that would work with my work phone. So, I left it behind. And it was incredibly freeing! I really allowed myself to relax, to focus on the fun adventures I was having, and enjoy all the delicious street food. Did my hand keep searching for the phone? 100%. Did I feel a bit guilty? I definitely did. Was it worth it? YES.

  • Tell people you’re on vacation

Let your team and counterparts know that you’re going on a REAL vacation. Work with your bosses to let them know that you’re going on a vacation where any contact should be emergency-only. Put a specific out-of-office message on, one that says you have limited access to email and re-direct to someone who is covering for you.

Once you express to people that you only want to be contacted in case of emergencies, people will respect that. Setting a boundary and communicating it is essential.


  • Respect other people’s vacations 

When your colleagues tell you that they’re going on vacation, note it and respect it. When you see that out-of-office message, make sure that you do your best not to contact them and let them enjoy their vacation.


  • Have a vacation buddy

Know how you have a gym buddy to keep you accountable? Have a vacation buddy, and tell them that you’re trying really hard to have a work detox. They can help keep you from constantly checking your phone, and you’ll feel like you should abide by the agreement that you guys made to relax.

The next time you go on vacation—take the time to enjoy it! Holidays and time off are key to recharging your batteries and making sure you return to work refreshed.