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Are back to work blues cutting short our holidays?

Posted on 07 October 2008 by Dan Johnson

Research by Indesit has found that more of us cut short our weekends because we start worrying about work, and even answering emails, on a Sunday.

If the day of rest has already been affected, do these findings have any relevance on how we spend our holiday time?

I can remember an early MD who always installed a fax machine by the pool in his holiday villa (this was in the days before email), so he could issue orders and receive updates from his team back at the office.

Many people I speak to dread the first day back at work after a holiday because of the anxiety they feel about catching up and responding to emails. When I’m away, I often find myself flicking into the email section of my mobile phone to try and keep on top of the latest developments back at the office.

As my wife tells me, that’s not really the point of a holiday.

The Indesit research suggests that responding to emails over the weekend is one of the drivers behind people’s back-to-work anxiety, so the number of messages that drop into inboxes over the course of a holiday is bound to ramp up the worry levels when we’re away.

Perhaps we should follow the lead of one friend who deletes every email she receives while she is on holiday, under the assumption that people will contact her again if their message really is important.

I wonder if a technology-lite holiday, such as camping in France, is more restful because it gives us a complete change of environment?

Back to nature, playing catch with the kids, eating outdoors, no TV – this really is a complete change to our home life.

If we are losing time thinking about work when we are away, should we be booking 8 or 15 night holidays to give us one more ‘buffer’ day between our holiday and the office return, when we can prepare ourselves for that first day back? After all, if the weekend is only 1.5 days long, we need all the rest we can get.

Do you think you’re using getting the most from your holiday or do you spend time worrying about work? What tips do you have for relaxing, and is a buffer day a good idea? Tell us what you think.

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One Response to “Are back to work blues cutting short our holidays?”

  1. Hi Dan,

    A very interesting view point! When I was employed by a company (I’m now self-employed) I used to get that Sunday evening “back to school” feeling that reminded of the good old days of preparing for the week ahead at school. For a long time, I thought it was just me – but it turned out that almost everyone I knew had the same dread of Sunday evenings. I remember I even stopped listening to a certain radio program as it evoked the dread, just by association!

    Interestingly, I’m working harder now that I have my own business… but I LOVE it! I think it’s because I am in control of my life and choices, and while I do work at weekends, quite often, I also have the time during the week, should I choose to, to do other things that would take too long on a Saturday when half of London is busy doing them too.

    It is very important to find an effective work-life balance (subject of my blog, in part), but quite often people aren’t even aware that they have that choice, or that there is so much information and help available to improve your life quality, be it online or from people around you.

    I like the idea of extra days – but practically, and economically, I can’t see it working too well as it would mean a change to holiday allowances most likely – if you’re like me, you cram as much into a holiday as possible, and leave the email-catching-up to when you’re back.

    Keep up the good articles :)
    Tracey


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