4 Tips to REALLY Step Away

Six hundred and twenty-eight days is the time between when our whole world changed and when I am writing this. Obviously, we need no reminders about the differences that we have faced in our industry due to Covid-19 or in our personal lives, but for some reason this year feels different. We are relatively back to normal, hosting tours and on-campus events, and with that comes the usual stress, burnout and overall exhaustion of the fall. 

We all need a break, and vacation during the middle of the year is hard enough to find let alone forget, but winter break is a time where everything is closed and everyone is on that same schedule. This is your time to sit back, put your feet up and drink cheap wine and watch awful Hallmark Christmas movies. (A Shradel family tradition)If you are like me, and judging by the work ethic of many on the road you are, winter break can be a relief but also a time where you still feel the need to pick up your phone, check your email, or text. It’s almost an unconscious action that you do. I’m writing this to tell you to stop.

Here are my steps to stepping away, logging off and fully refreshing during this long break before we head right into yield and financial aid season.

Step 1: Work ahead. The Monday before you leave, make a list of things that keep you up at night. What are the tasks or the duties that you continually check your phone for or that you think about every day when you come into work. Make it your goal to work as hard as you can to complete those tasks prior to leaving so there is no reason to be anxious about that task when you return. Also, make a list of things for when you come back and leave it on your desk for when you return.

Step 2: Contact your troublesome families. Look, we all have those families that email or call or text or all of the above every week. Be proactive and communicate with them this week and let them know that the office will be closed. So, if they have questions, you’ll respond on X date. They are still probably going to try and contact you, but you’ve done what is needed; you didn’t leave them hanging, and you can answer their questions when you return to the office.

Step 3: Set your vacation notice. I know, this one is easy but often forgot. Set that email notice, and change your voicemails on your cellphone and office phone so no matter what, they get the response that you are away. Just knowing that it’s set, will give you some relief.

Step 4: Walk away. Honestly, this is the hardest part, but trust me when I say, it will all be there when you get back. I have been in the shoes of an admission rep and now as a director, and I can honestly say, it doesn’t get easier to step away and leave work behind, but when you do, you will thank yourself when you come back to it. Heck, you might even come up with some new ideas with a refreshed you.

As a supervisor, I have seen burnout and what it can do to the morale of a team and the individual. It doesn’t help anyone. In fact, it hurts the overall goal of the office. We all can use this time to focus on our family and ourselves.

So, this upcoming winter break, put your email on hold, don’t log in to your computer and instead eat too many cookies, forget how long you’ve been wearing the same sweat pants (not ashamed), and enjoy your well deserved and much needed break.

Happy Holidays, and Happy New year.

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