5 Ways to Make Sure You Actually Log Off During the Holiday Season

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April 16, 2024 at 11:49PM UTC

The end of the year — especially the “Christmas season” — is one of the most stressful work periods for U.S. employees, according to Metlife. People are not only rushing to wrap key work up before the end of the year, but also trying to balance their workload with preparing for the holiday season.

Whether you’re spending time with family, traveling, or just hoping to take some days to decompress, actually logging off during the holiday season is essential to not only making the most of your time off but also making your time off work for you. 

Why should you prioritize actually taking time off?

Time off doesn’t just give you a break from work; it also has tangible benefits on both your work performance and overall mental health.

“Time off from work can help decrease your risks of many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, depression, and hypertension,” according to UnityPoint Health Wellness Manager, Stefanie Spilde

It can also give you valuable time with family, friends, and yourself — to reconnect and develop your relationships or even get into the hobbies you’ve pushed aside during stressful workweeks.

Time off from work can even have benefits for your professional life. When you can take the proper time to relax and recharge, you can come back to work feeling more engaged, energized and less burnt out.

It’s common to be concerned or even stressed about taking time off, especially if your workload is high around the holiday season. Time off looks different in different industries and depends on your company culture. Not everyone has the privilege of logging off and feeling truly unplugged. Before you take time off, get a temperature check of your workload and your team’s workload, and how others on your team have best prepared to get their work covered and boundaries set.

Regardless of where you work, there are ways to set boundaries so you can feel OOO — even if your home office is right next to where you eat your Christmas dinner.

What to do before you log off.

1. Plan ahead.

Maybe you’re worried that the project won’t be finished on time or that urgent emails will keep piling up while you’re out. To make your PTO as restful as possible, plan ahead before you log off. 

Whether it’s a detailed spreadsheet or just an email to your team, write out a plan with some key points of coverage. Be sure to include all active projects and daily/weekly tasks you’ll need to be covered, as well as the best point of contact while you’re out. 

If you’re worried about work piling up when you get back, list out your tasks for both your time before you’re out and the week you return. Is there anything you can start now to make it easier when you return? Anything you can delegate or de-prioritize? Knowing what to expect when you return will make you feel more prepared when you log back on — instead of opening your laptop to surprise projects, tasks, and meetings.

2. Set boundaries with your team.

Before you log off, communicate with your team so they know exactly when you’re out and what to expect in terms of coverage. This is when you should set boundaries about messages, emails, and calls while you’re out. What constitutes an emergency? Should they expect you to respond to anything while you’re off?

While it may sound counterintuitive to let your team know when they can contact you, this sets clear boundaries on what you are and aren’t willing to do while you’re off. This way, you can limit how often you’re checking Slack or email and only respond if it’s critical.

3. Set external boundaries.

Now that your team is set for your time off, it’s time to let everyone outside of your team know that you’ll be away. This can mean setting up an OOO email message, an away Slack status, or sending a few quick emails to clients to let them know you’ll be out. Make your time off visible and clear to anyone looking at your calendar or trying to email or message you.

What to do once you’ve logged off.

1. Separate the professional from the personal.

Physical space between the professional and personal is important. If you have a work computer at home, physically move it out of sight — so it can be out of mind. If you can, remove your work email and messages from your phone. If you can’t, dedicate specific time to checking your work communications, and turn the notifications on Do Not Disturb for the other hours.

2. Do something non-work-related that you love.

If you’re not going on vacation or have many plans during your PTO, it can be hard to resist the temptation to log on and just finish that one task or send that email. Instead, try to do something non-work-related that you haven’t been able to do during your busy workdays. Maybe it’s knitting a scarf, watching your favorite TV show, going for a long run or cooking something new for dinner. Engaging in your favorite hobbies or activities can recharge your personal self — and remind you who you are outside of the stress of work.

Logging off during the holiday season can be difficult, but it’s a crucial way not only to recharge but also reconnect with your non-work relationships and your personal self. Set yourself up for success before you log off and enjoy some non-guilty, restful time before the new year begins — you more than deserve it.


This article reflects the views of the author and not those of Fairygodboss.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for logging off during the holiday season? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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