Setting yourself up for success before taking a vacation is easy enough for anyone to do with a few simple steps. After all, no one likes returning from a holiday to an overwhelming pile of work, endless emails, and far more to do than when you left. Avoid all that hassle and headache by using these tips to get ahead and make that first day back go smoothly!
Before Taking a Vacation, Anticipate the Future as Much as Possible
Anticipating who will need to know any details before taking a vacation will absolutely help set you up for success. Making sure to figure out who needs to know that you’re leaving and who they should contact instead of you will alleviate any concerns. Whether it’s a supervisor who will be covering for you or a coworker, make sure that you also reach out to that supervisor or coworker to make sure they’re still on board. There’s no sense in taking time off if you’re going to end up working while you’re away!
Make a Checklist of Everything That Needs To Be Done Before You Go
This sounds easy enough, but it’s still absolutely vital that you know what you’re dealing with before you set your Out of Office message. What projects are left? What kind of issues could come up? Listing all the things people regularly contact you about and who can help them will save you from a potential headache.
Figuring out what projects need to be done can require planning as much as a week in advance, but it’s time well spent. Planning how you’re going to use your remaining time and how to use it well is the best way to set yourself up for success when you return.
Create a Schedule and Stick to It
Now that you know what needs to be done, the next step is to see how long each step will take. When you’re able to set your schedule for each day before you leave, you’ll know what your time budgeting is, including for any last-minute emergencies that may come up. Giving yourself flexible time in your day going up to your vacation will allow for you to handle any last-minute issues. Making the most of your time this way will set you up for success in your current day and when you return.
Prioritize Any Time Sensitive Matters
Is anyone relying on your work between now and your return? Instead of last-minute panic when you return after relaxing, be sure to buckle down and get as much of it done as possible. Your coworker or boss will appreciate the fact that while it may take more effort now, you’ll have finished work that you can give them before you take time off. No one wants to be pulled away or have to cut their time short to return to work just to finish a project that could have been done ahead of time.
Consider your coworker’s or boss’s point of view: someone else besides you is taking time off (sounds nice) and you’re stuck doing their job on top of your own. Would you rather cover for the person who tied up all the loose ends or the one who just dropped the ball halfway through the project, sales data, etc.? Naturally, since you have your own work to take care of, you’d like the person who isn’t going to be at work to have done their work already.
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Make a Checklist for What to do When You Return
You’re in work mode now, which is great, but maybe you aren’t able to finish everything before you leave. There will be work to do when you return, but you’re probably going to have a hard time getting motivated when you return. Having a ton of balls in the air when you return can make finding motivation difficult. Help your future self be successful when you return by making a list now, before you leave, of what to focus on. Listing it by priority or time-sensitive first will help you, post-vacation, come back and conquer it! Be sure to leave where you will find it when you come back, somewhere on your nice clean desk. This will also help you avoid thinking about work while you’re gone. Removing that mental clutter will allow you to completely destress.
Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate, Say No, or Delay
Whether you’re the leader of the office or brand new to the place, it’s vital that the workplace continues smoothly without you. Saying no or delaying any meeting will help others understand, and delegating will show who you trust to make the same decisions as you. Making sure that the team operates smoothly when you’re gone will encourage your customers to return and your team to take their own time off when needed.
Clean Up Your Desk
Cleaning up your desk will allow your first day back to be fully about getting stuff done. Taking care of your immediate surroundings will also remind you that you won’t be there! Coming back to a clean work environment will keep you from that return-to-work misstep, which is getting distracted. Now is also a good time to check on any reservations, charge any electronics, and generally plan ahead. You don’t want to spend your time while on vacation worrying!
Set Your Out of Office Message
For a great time off, be sure to include in your away message who to contact instead of you. After all, no one wants to return to an inbox bursting with panicked messages! “Set your out-of-office response on your voice mail and email,” says Ryan Khan, a career coach, author of “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad”, and founder of The Hired Group. Before taking a vacation, be sure to set expectations of when you’ll return and how much contact you’ll have with the office.
Need more advice on how to write one? How to Write the Best Out of Office Message
Keep Your Boundaries Between Personal and Business
Once you have tied up as many loose ends as you can, delegate the rest, let the team know when you’ll be gone and who to contact instead, then stop working! Make sure that you really use your time off to unwind and distance yourself.
Resist the urge to check on work emails while you’re on vacation unless it’s absolutely necessary. You’ve earned this time away! Keep yourself out of it completely. All that time taken up by work can now be filled with what you prefer to do. Enjoy!
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