Three top tips for executives going on Christmas vacation

The festive season is upon us and, for the hard-working executive, it’s time for a well-deserved break. What a shame it would be to return to work feeling like you didn’t get away at all. To help you squeeze the most from your holiday, three directors from Signium Africa, an executive search firm based in Sandton, share their top tips for quality R & R.

Annelize Van Rensburg, Director: Executive Search - Get away completely

People sometimes find it easier to stay at home and spend their Christmas visiting family and friends. There’s no travel planning involved and they can set up spontaneous get togethers. But research shows if you want a proper rest, it’s better to get away completely.

You can’t have a real vacation if everything in your environment reminds you of business pressures and family responsibilities. You don’t have to go overseas, just somewhere different. It could be a game lodge in the bush, a holiday at the coast, camping by a dam, or simply staying in an unfamiliar town.

So, if you’re a busy executive, treat your partner, your kids and yourself to a new experience. There will be plenty time for inlaws, friends and business when you get back.

Mosima Selekisho, Director: Executive Search - Pace your vacation time

Try to break your holiday into three phases: relaxation for winding down; rejuvenation for enjoying yourself; and reactivation to prepare for your return. Ideally, you need three weeks - one for each phase - but if you have less time, divide it into these stages anyway.

As a competitive leader, your first instinct might be to jump on a jet ski or go skydiving. Rather opt for a good massage at the local spa, sunbathing on the beach, or anything else that lets your body rest and your mind drift. You need this.

By the second phase, you’re ready to get out and have as much fun as possible, having forgotten other concerns. In the third phase, you can still have fun while making time to dream of what the new year holds in store and any positive actions you intend to take on your return.

Michelle Moss, Director: Assessments - Take a digital vacation

Our devices have become a part of our daily lives so it’s difficult to switch off and disconnect for any period of time, especially for the always-on executive. Even going on holiday, we use our phones for electronic flight boarding, booking into hotels, hailing ride-sharing services, finding interesting dining and entertainment venues, taking photos and more.

Yet, the more disconnected your vacation, the quicker you’ll be able to settle into the holiday spirit. Try these tips: leave your devices at home - you, your partner and your kids. Take only a single phone for emergencies, preferably with a new SIM, and share the number with a select few contacts. And switch it off when you’re not using it. For taking photos, bring along a digital camera so there’s no excuse to check emails in between.

Have a great holiday

In a nutshell, disconnect digitally, mentally and physically to get the most from your vacation. Finally, from all of us at Signium, have a very Merry Festive Season and a Happy New Year.

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Signium Africa (previously Talent Africa), a leading executive recruitment company based in South Africa offering head-hunting and leadership consulting services in sub-Saharan Africa. www.signium.co.za