The holidays are almost here, which means you might be looking forward to some time off from work.
While this time of year might be a bit chaotic, a break from work can offer you the chance to recharge and refocus.
However, it's crucial that you don't squander the opportunity.
Business Insider spoke with Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job" about what smart and driven professionals do when they're on break.
Here are 15 things that successful people do during breaks:
1. They have a plan
"Successful people plan ahead when a holiday break is approaching, because they recognize that it's a rare opportunity to enjoy well-earned leisure time," Taylor says. "Even if the plan is to kick back, they usually have in mind certain activities, such as visiting with family or friends."
2. They compartmentalize
Don't ruin your break by overworking yourself. If you need to get stuff done, there's a way to handle it without dragging down the rest of your time off. "If work needs to get done, assign a period during the day or the break to attend to it," Taylor says.
3. They set boundaries
"Successful professionals let others know when and how they can be reached, so they can truly recharge," Taylor says. "Setting a day and time during the week allows you to get a lot accomplished in an efficient way." So make sure to set up an "out of office" email.
4. They get organized before they leave
It can be hard to relax on break if you've left your work in a state of disarray. "Tying up loose ends mitigates chaos and projects falling through the cracks by the time you return," Taylor says.
5. They assign someone to fill in
"You may not have the luxury of literally handing over your projects to a staff member, but savvy professionals will at least have a contact available who can reach them in an emergency," Taylor says.
6. They set limits
Sometimes, you just have to say "no" to things on break. "Depending on the status of your work and latitude in your position, you may sometimes have to say, 'No,' albeit diplomatically, when asked for things that can wait," Taylor says. "If that's been a challenge for you in the past, this is an opportunity to grow and feel more empowered in your work life."
7. They unwind
Successful people try to detach themselves from their cell phones, Taylor says. It will help you unwind and relax.
8. They visit family and friends
There's no place like home for the holidays. "There may be other times of the year when you have time off and those you care about aren't available," Taylor says. "But this is prime time for reconnecting with your family and friends; they likely have some down time, too."
9. They allow for some slack
At the end of the day, breaks are meant to be relaxing. Don't overbook yourself. "If you book yourself solid with activities during your time off, you may feel pressure, which is counterproductive," Taylor told Business Insider.
10. They plan quick getaways or staycations
Full-fledged vacations can be amazing, enriching experiences, but a lot of holiday travel can also be rather draining. Taylor notes that successful people realize that low-key getaways and staycations can be just as fun during breaks.
11. They exercise
Don't make excuses. Odds are, you're downing a few more candy canes than usual over break, so it's more crucial than ever that you keep up your exercise routine. "Skipping workouts over the holidays can make you feel like you're dragging, and you want to capitalize on valued time off by feeling your best mentally and physically," Taylor says.
12. They engage in their passions
Getting involved in your favorite hobby or pastime, whether it's music, sports, art, reading, or other endeavors, gives you a broader and healthier perspective on life," Taylor says. "It also makes you a more interesting person in and outside of work."
13. They enjoy nature
Taylor says that the holidays are an excellent time to enjoy the great outdoors and get some much-needed fresh air.
14. They detach from work
Whatever you do, don't waste your precious free time on work. You might get ahead in the office in the short-term, but you're risking burnout and sacrificing your own relaxation. "Work-life balance can seem a trite term, but it's how many business leaders define true success," Taylor says.
15. They volunteer
"The holidays can be an ideal time to help others who are less fortunate, especially during this time of year when a sense of support community goes a long way," Taylor says. Plus, helping others may make you feel happier and healthier.
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