It’s that time of year when the sun is shining and it becomes harder and harder to concentrate on work. You know that feeling when everyone is taking a vacation from work and you’re too afraid to take yours?!? We’ve all been there!
Several years ago I was jealous but was too afraid to use mine because of all the work I would have to do when I got back. I would panic on my trips worried that I didn’t answer an email or that someone would need me for something and I wasn’t there. Yep, I went totally nuts about it! But now… there is nothing that is going to stop me from time to relax and re energize because I am all about having a proper vacation system in place. Even though the workload doesn’t stop when you are away there are 6 key ways to optimize your time off and be more prepared to tackle what’s on your plate when you’re back in the office.
Plan Strategically for a vacation from work
Before taking or scheduling your trip try to find a less stressful time to do it. Some times of year might be better than others and picking one that gives you more flexibility will save you stress in the long run.
Set up an “out of office” reply
If you’re going to be away from your desk without access to email or plan to take longer than usual… you need to have an out of office message. If you don’t have one people will be expecting the same level of service as usual and will be put off if you’re not replying within that time frame. No one will fault you for going on vacation but will be annoyed if you seem like you’re just ignoring them. A simple message:
I am currently out of the office with limited internet access and will read and respond to your email upon my return on (date). If you need immediate assistance, please contact (name/phone number).
Plan out a month
Look at your calendar for the month after you return from vacation to see what big projects are coming up. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What needs to be done before I leave so I am on track for these projects?
- Action: Block off time on your calendar to complete those items
- Who will be my point of contact when I am away for this?
- Action: Reach out to the person and explain the project and their role two weeks prior to vacation or more
- What is a top priority when I get back?
- Action: Block off time on your calendar for when you get back to address this.
- What does my supervisor need to know before I leave?
- Action: Schedule a meeting to keep them in the loop
- Who else is involved in the project that I need to let them know I will be away?
- Action: Contact these individuals and give them a status report, plan for when you’re away and your steps when you get back
Have confidence in your coworkers
This one may seem a little silly to add but it’s one of the most important things. If you’re on vacation -no matter what system you have in place if you don’t trust the people you have delegated things to it’s not going to work. You need to trust others to be part of the process and that they can do their part. You have thought long and hard in the last step who you need to loop in and have given responsibilities to the people you trust. Now, let them handle it!
Let your colleagues know how accessible you will be on vacation. If you’re totally tuning out.. that’s great.. just let them know. Don’t say you will be available if you don’t mean it! Remember these are your vacation days that you’ve earned. By setting the expectations everyone will be on the same page.
Still feeling a little unsteady about taking your vacation days? Ask your supervisor for their expectations, delegation suggestions, and for priorities you might have forgotten. This shows initiative, what you’ve done to prepare, and who their new point of contacts are.
Putting in the request and actually taking time off can be difficult and leaves us with a million emotions! It’s important to both plan ahead and prepare for the return. When you get back, try to plan for a few hours of catch up before heading to your first meeting. This will give you the chance to settle in and get your bearings.
What have you done to prepare for your vacation from work?