What if you REALLY took off around Thanksgiving?

4 days can be the reboot you need to feel more fulfilled at work and home

 
We’re kicking off the first full week of November and I wanted to invite you to do something with me. I want to invite you to really, truly, take off the 4 days around Thanksgiving.
 
“I always take it off!” you say. But I know you. You’ve checked your work email. You’ve tried to “catch-up”. You’ve gone to check the recipe from Alton Brown to be sure you’re not going to totally ruin the turkey and then 20 minutes later found yourself saying “Why can’t Phillipe in Europe just celebrate today and leave me alone!” You’re not alone in this.
 
What does it look like to really take those 4 days off:
  • Block your calendar TODAY including the Monday morning you get back until after lunch.
  • Reschedule anything that’s already been scheduled and decline standing meetings.
  • Update your signature the week of November 18th to let people know you’ll truly be unavailable November 28th – December 2nd at 1pm local time.
  • Write your OOO message the day before you’re off.
  • Put your work devices out of sight.
  • Remove email, your calendar, slack, asana, wrike, Monday, basecamp and all of the work demands from your phone.
  • Make a list of fun things you want to see happen in the natural flow of the days you’re taking off.
  • A new Sunday night ritual
Let’s break these things down:
 
Block your calendar TODAY including the Monday morning you get back until after lunch.
 
We all know that things come up at the last minute but the biggest source of our problems isn’t the last minute. It’s claiming what we want and need ahead of time. We need to set the boundaries.
 
This is a simple effort but it’s one we can easily overlook. Block your calendar the days you’ll be off. Are you considering taking Wednesday too? Go ahead and block it. You can always open it back up later.
 
Please note, I’m suggesting you block Monday morning too. Why? Because if your day starts off with a sprint on Monday your Sunday night just became very fraught emotionally.
 
You might face a bit of initial resistance to blocking the time off…what if something comes up. Trust me, people have no problem asking for what they need. It’s time for you to claim what you need too.
 
Reschedule anything that’s already been scheduled and decline standing meetings.
 
“I simply can not decline this meeting. I will just do this one meeting. The rest of the time will be all family.” I’ve said this. I’d love to pass this off on a client but this is all me.
 
Here’s the truth: we’re terrible a juggling the different hats we wear. If I know that I’ve got a 10 am meeting, even if it’s just 30 minutes, even if it’s not hard, I will struggle with being present with my family. It will be the thing in the way of us making pies, it will be the thing in the way of me getting out paint for Turkey art, it will be the thing in the way of me and a nap.
 
Decline and reschedule. Here’s a sample script:
 
Decline the Standing Meetings: Clearing my schedule for my planned out of office time. I’ll circle back the week of if there are any outstanding deliverables for me on this call. Thank you!
 
Reschedule One-Off Meetings: You’re a step ahead of me on planning November. I’m not going to be in the office November 28th – December 2nd around mid-day. I’d prefer to have this scheduled before/after (SELECT ONE) can we find another good time?
 
Set the Expectation
 
Update your email signature the week of November 18th to let people know you’ll truly be unavailable November 28th – December 2nd at 1pm local time.
 
This is not complicated but it does help people set their expectations correctly in the week leading up to you being out of the office.
 
Write your OOO message the day before you’re off.
 
You’re going to be off the work grid for this time so you want to make sure you check this box. On top of this OOO get AMAZING open rates. Think about it. Someone emails you and they get an IMMEDIATE reply: They open it. So let’s put it to work:
I’ll be out of the office until Monday, December 2nd with limited access to email. If we haven’t already, let’s get connected on LinkedIn you can find me here: INSERT LINK TO YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE. 
Here’s mine – now I work in marketing and I love to write so I got a little creative:
You emailed me and I’m out of the office. I’ve done something radical: I took email off my phone. I know, I know, it gave me a bit of a panic attack at first too.
But, I intend to come back to you on Monday with a full take of renewed energy, a few notebook pages full of ideas and happy.
As I won’t be playing email tennis with you I issue you one challenge while I’m away: Make something. Pancakes, pie, a countdown to a new decade, a status update, a worksheet, a memory, a goal, a smile. I’ll be doing the same. If this is an emergency call 911.
If you need more of this energy go ahead and follow me and catch up on my blog posts on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cass-mccrory
Put your work devices out of sight.
 
This is true of Halloween candy, your sloppy sweatpants and your computer. If it’s out of sight it’s easier kept out of mind. Put it in a file cabinet, on the top shelf, on your treadmill (hahaha) or leave it in the office.
 
Remove email, your calendar, slack, asana, wrike, Monday, basecamp and all of the work demands from your phone.
 
Want to know something really crazy? Your thumb will reflexively go to the places those apps used to inhabit. Replace it with something that would actually help you like the Insight Timer for meditation.
 
Make a list of fun things you want to see happen in the natural flow of the days you’re taking off.
 
You could plan. You’re great at planning but that’s not generating the kind of ease and flow you’re seeking in this time away. Do this instead: Make a list (with your family) of fun things you’d like to see happen. This isn’t a comprehensive to-do list. This is not the minute-by-minute playbook that is a Turkey dinner. This is the stuff you’d like to see happen.
 
Suggestions:
  • Make a delicious meal and eat it by candlelight alone
  • Fire in the fireplace
  • Finish watching Jack Ryan Season 2
  • Drop off the coats that no longer fit your family to a shelter
  • Get out the Christmas decorations
  • Make a pie from scratch
  • Read a book
  • Go through the photo albums
  • Eat an entire meal of cheese, meats, crackers and spreads
  • Read a magazine cover to cover
  • Wander around a used bookstore
  • Make a blanket fort
  • Get a pedicure
  • Have a date night
  • Get the ingredients and make a craft cocktail at home
  • Arrange fresh flowers
  • Buy someone you don’t know coffee
  • Your first annual viewing of National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
There’s only one caveat of the entire list. What doesn’t happen doesn’t matter. What the list does is creates an invitation for fun to happen! You’re bringing the possibilities into the light.
 
A new Sunday night ritual
It’s easy to get sucked into the work on Sunday night. Get ahead of it and all. But it’s an illusion and it’s not fair to yourself or the promise contained within this time off.
 
So instead I want to help create a new Sunday night ritual. It’s called: How do I want to show up this week? And it goes like this. Without planning, without dread, without expectations.
 
Ask yourself this question: How do I want to show up this week? And then, you’re going to do something revolutionary. You’re going to hold the space for you to answer this question. It won’t come in an instant. I find that it happens after I write I don’t know a handful of times. And then I ask myself: If you were to know, what do you think now?
 
How you show up is everything. Have you ever had someone slam a cup of coffee on a table and then pour the cup about 70% full and then walk away without acknowledging you? That’s a completely different experience than someone setting a cup down, smiling at you, filling up the cup, asking if you want room for cream and then saying warmly “enjoy!” That’s the how you show up.
 
What will this break do for you?
 
I suspect it will showcase what is really important in your life. Your personal relationships will improve. You’ll feel a bit refreshed. You will rest better on Friday night than you have in a really really long time. You’ll start to smile a bit easier at the observations within your day-to-day. You might miss work a little bit and it’s good to pay special attention to what specifically you miss. You might feel worried about some things at work too and that’s important to note as well.
 
Breaks invite awareness. Awareness is the doorway to being more intentional. And intentionality puts us on a path of greater personal and professional fulfillment.
 
Tell me. Are you going to REALLY take it off?
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