Many Americans won’t get to take vacations this summer, and some don’t get or use vacation days at all. If you’re lucky enough to both have and take a vacation during the warmer months (or really any time at all), there are some things you should do to prepare.
Prepping for a vacation at work makes it easier to actually enjoy your time off. If you do the right things ahead of leaving, you can make sure you have a mostly, if not entirely, work-free break.
1. Tie up loose ends
Just because you’re not going to be there doesn’t mean that work stops. If the work you do involves or impacts others, it’s important to make sure any people involved have whatever they need to move forward.
To make that happen, meet with anyone you work with a few weeks ahead of your trip. Ask what they might need from you to not hit a dead end on any joint projects and complete that work.
Be considerate of others. Make sure that your absence does not impact them, or that everyone at least understands the impact before it happens.
2. Tell everyone
It sounds silly, but it’s important to let your coworkers, clients, and bosses know that you will be off. This becomes even more important if you’re going away and won’t be easy to reach.
Ideally, send an email telling people when you will be back and who to contact in case of an emergency. You will also want to set your email auto-reply with that information and mark yourself absent on any communication tools you use.
3. Prepare yourself
It’s not easy for some people to fully disconnect. If you’re one of those people, do whatever you can in advance to make yourself comfortable being away from work.
That may mean closing out certain projects or meeting with people to make doubly sure you’ve covered every base. Do as much as you can to be ahead of the game so you can avoid people needing you for anything during your time off.
It’s also a good idea to talk with your boss about where people can be directed in your absence. That may mean having a colleague as a point person, or directing people to different coworkers for different issues.
Make it a real vacation
Your office probably won’t fall apart just because you’re not there for a week, and vacations are important—everyone needs to spend time relaxing and recharging. If you spend your whole vacation on your laptop or with your phone in your hand, you’re not really taking a break.
Allow yourself to relax. Accept that you deserve the time off—you’ve earned it—and try to put work away for whatever period you’re off.
It’s fine to take a quick look at email and even answer important ones, but try to keep that to a minimum. You want to come back to work having truly taken time off. For that to happen, you actually need to put work aside and make having a good time (or just relaxing) your number-one priority.