How often have you said to yourself, “It’s just too much work to take a vacation.”
You have laundry to do, appointments to make for pets at the kennel, mail to stop, and vacation supplies to purchase. And then there is your work: projects to complete before you leave, an inbox to clean out so you don’t come back to 10,000 items, and colleagues and clients to connect with prior to your departure.
However, taking a vacation can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, decrease anxiety and stress, and improve your productivity. Vacations are essential for your well-being and performance, so you need a saner way to prepare for your next one.
Allow proper time to prep
Allot two weeks, if possible, to prepare and plan for your trip.
You don’t want to be harried or hurried as you get your professional and personal life organized. If you invest the time and energy now, your post-vacation reentry will be easier.
Schedule a meeting
Book a meeting with yourself the first morning you are back in the office.
Block the first morning and if possible, the entire first day you are back in the office to get clear, current, and caught up.
Review what tasks to get done before you go
Review your project and task list and identify the three to five projects and/or tasks that must be completed prior to your departure. Focus solely on the “must be completed,” not the “I would like to” or “I want to complete” projects and tasks.
For the remaining projects and tasks, write down the next action step you need to take when you return from vacation. If you do this step before you leave, it will make for a simpler post-vacation return.
Determine client and project points of contact
- Who will cover your key clients or projects? Can you provide a developmental opportunity for a junior colleague and have them manage an account while you are away?
- Who will be your point of contact on key projects?
- Who will be able to reach you in case of an emergency? What is the best number for them to use?
Document this information and share it with your colleagues.
Draft your out-of-office email message
- Include a list of who should be contacted for each type of issue, concern, or inquiry and their contact information.
- Include your upcoming vacation in your email signature prior to your departure. For example, I included the following in my email signature beginning May 15 – Please note I will away from the office on vacation from May 27 – June 5.
Update your colleagues
- Provide a status update on all projects that impact them.
- Remind them who from your team or in the company will be their project point of contact while you are out of the office.
- Let them know if you will be checking in while you are away and what your designated “office hours” will be while you are on vacation. I hope your vacation will be “unplugged”, however I know that is not always possible. For example, on my last vacation, I checked in with my Chief of Staff on Wednesday morning while I drove for 45 minutes to the grocery store. We caught up and then I put my phone away.
Update everyone else
Your clients, vendors, and any other key stakeholders should know the status of their projects and know who their point of contact is while you are away.
Inventory supplies and purchase missing and required items
- Do you have all the clothing and equipment you need for your vacation? Sunscreen? Hat? Swimsuit?
- If you are flying, do you have TSA-approved containers for your toiletries?
- Have you downloaded the books you want to read to your Kindle?
- Are all your electronic devices fully charged?
- What do you need to make your vacation special and memorable?
Prepare your home for departure
- Did you stop your mail and newspapers or plan for them to be collected for you?
- Who is watching your pets, watering your plants, and/or checking on your home while you are away?
- Is your refrigerator cleaned out so you don’t come home to bad smells and things growing in it?
You’re ready, now go enjoy your vacation!
Carson Tate is the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc., a business consulting firm that partners with organizations, business leaders and employees to enhance workplace productivity, foster employee engagement, and build personal and professional legacies. She is the author of Own It. Love It. Make It Work.: How To Make Any Job Your Dream Job.