Work free break on a bike

How to have a work-free holiday

how to have a work-free break

“I’ll have to leave my phone on 24/7 in case the team needs me.”

“I could take that Skype meeting from the beach bar, I suppose.”

“I’d rather just keep on top of emails and stuff while I’m away.”

“I can’t just disappear, can I?”

“A bit of work won’t do me any harm.”

Is this you?!

Recognise yourself in any of these statements?

I’ve heard them all from the lips of my non-profit coaching clients over the years. All senior leaders in their organisations, and all planning not to have the break they deserve over the summer. 


I’m not so sure I agree with them. In fact, I don’t agree at all.

I don’t believe that summer holidays have to be this way for leaders in our sector.

So, when I hear these words from my clients, this is what I say:

1. You deserve a break.

A proper break. A time when you down tools, turn off your phone and all the other gadgets associated with work, and have some full restoration time. You work so hard around the year and this is your time, for you.

2. There is no need for guilt.

It’s not even about you, if that makes you feel better! Think of it this way. If you are stressed out and depleted because you never totally switch off, you are in no position to lead with your usual energy and flair. It’s about doing the right thing for your team and the people your organisation supports. They need you to shine bright which means you’ll want to look after yourself.

3. But you have to make a conscious choice to ‘switch off’.

You choose, no one else. I love this advice from my VA’s latest blog: Don’t write that you’ll have ‘limited’ access to email in your ‘out of office’ reply. Tell people you’ll have ‘no access’. They will totally respect your decision and you won’t get messages and calls which take you out of your holiday mood. What else can you make a conscious choice about? Taking work with you? “Reading around the subject?” Checking emails in the evening? It’s up to you, of course, but be aware that when you make a choice it will have consequences. Reading a tricky email will affect your ability to relax. Spending an evening checking figures will mean you’re away from family and friends. When you say ‘yes’ to something, you say ‘no’ to something else. Your choice.

4. You can trust your people.

Prepare them well. Give them the info they need to be in charge. Make sure they have your permission to take decisions when necessary and you really can leave them to get on with it.  It’s such a great opportunity for talented people to step up! I love it when my coaching clients tell me all about the wonderful way their team performed in their absence. This is true leadership.

5. Use your time wisely so you return refreshed and reinvigorated.

Work free break on a bike

The five pillars of Wellbeing are a beautiful route to a work-free holiday:

  • Connect with friends and family – around the breakfast table, for a walk on the beach, over a glass of wine and a game of Scrabble
  • Be active – swim in the river, play cricket in the park, stroll to the pub, cycle the lanes
  • Take notice – of a stunning sunset, in a long, heartfelt conversation, of the teenage cousins chilling together
  • Keep learning – the names of wild flowers, how to windsurf, ten new German phrases every day, a summer school writing course
  • Give to others – but not at the expense of yourself!

If you find it hard to switch off, here’s some more advice from an earlier blog on leaving it all behind (and making sure you don’t wear mismatched sandals to the airport).

Over to you

Do you have a break coming up? Take some time now to think about how you’ll switch off. What can you do to empower your team in your absence? What conscious choices will you make to ensure you get the break you deserve?

What next?

If taking a proper break feels like a great idea in theory but seems impossible to you, we need to talk! Get in touch and let’s see how I can help you thrive in your role whilst taking care of your own wellbeing.  

Give me a call on 0208 772 7808 or 07958 501 427 or drop me an email ( I’d be pleased to have a totally no-obligation chat about how coaching can help.