You may agree with me that the last week of the year, between Christmas and New Year's Eve, has a particular charm. I mean that aspect here, that nobody (at least in the "Western" world) is really working. It's that one week where you can take time off from daily duties and not be left behind, because everybody just agreed that we won't be busy this week. Hence that's the week I'm also starting this website on. I finally have time, time in the sense that pressing issues, however well-managed, are not piling up right while I'm writing this letter.
At the software company Lombiq, we work all around the clock. On contrary to global teams that do this by "following the sun", most of our team members are in the same or close time zones. So, it's a result of us being a remote-first, distributed, asynchronously collaborating team: there are people who, following their personal preference, get up at the same time others go to bed, despite living in the same city. We also have clients and partners from all continents. This means that, especially if you fulfill a leadership role, you'll always have something to catch up on when you first sit down to work for the day.
Can we replicate the calmest week? Is it possible to make the world stop for you while you're away from the keyboard, during weekends, public holidays, or when you go on vacation? I don't think so unless we go extremely local and synchronized, including with clients, which isn't really possible in IT (but can be the case if you open a corner store without an online presence, for example). There are experiments like at the German automaker Daimler, to free you from at least having to chew through the dump of e-mails that you get during your time off by auto-deleting them. While this is interesting, you'll still have things to catch up on, causing stress during your first few days of being back. Also, I as someone running a company can't really imagine telling prospective clients that their e-mail was deleted, and if they really insist on the pleasure of giving us money, they should send their e-mail again when it fits my schedule.
So, what can we do? Since I don't think the root cause can be solved (or rather, I don't think there's an actual problem to being with, i.e. people your work with communicating with you), what I recommend tackling is the effect: you having to catch up on matters. So, here are my tips, that I follow continuously, so the cognitive load of everything happening all at once is reduced not just when I'm on holiday: