Leaving work for vacation stresses people out. It’s probably why American’s only take about half of their paid leave every year… which is really sad. Working for myself has it’s perks, but there’s nobody to cover for me when I’m away, which means I have to do some strategic planning.
Since I entered the working world, I’ve taken as many trips as I can while still managing a workload (both as a freelancer & as a salaried employee). Here’s how to get everything done at work before you leave on vacation without feeling stressed!
1. Schedule Smart
Don’t overcommit on meetings right before or right after your vacation. If you can avoid meetings the day before and day after, do it. It will help you complete more tasks before your trip and get caught up quickly once you’re back.
2. Remind, Remind, Remind
I don’t mean this in an annoying way, but there are 3 sets of people you need to remind of your trip
- Any needy or high profile clients that are accustomed to a fast turn around
- Let them know a couple of weeks in advance which days you’ll be unavailable. Be sure to be professional and use the opportunity to let them know you’d love to take care of anything NOW before you’re unavailable. Double check with your boss that this is ok, but I’ve always found that clients are appreciative of the heads up.
- Your co-workers (aka, your out of office support system!)
- These people will be your rock while you’re gone. They’ll be stuck covering for you, so give them the courtesy of asking rather than them being blindsided with extra work.
- Your superiors, managers, or boss
- These folks have a lot to handle – even if they’re the ones that approved your vacation, they’ve likely forgotten by now. Remind them gently that you’ll be gone and want to handle any pressing matters before you’re unreachable. If you share calendars, send them a request so they’ll see your blocked out dates and won’t schedule you for anything.
3. Plan In Advance
Look at the two weeks after your vacation to see if there is anything pressing. Are there any client events or important dates approaching? Ask anyone involved what they need from you so you aren’t scrambling three days before something important. You might have a little extra work on the front end but you’ll be thankful once you return. Make a to-do list for your first day back so you’re feeling organized post-vacation.
I said this before, but your co-workers can be your lifeline while you’re gone. If you have an office buddy, ask if they’ll check in on your emails or clients. Also check with anyone you’re co-working on a project with if there’s anything they specifically need from you before you’re gone. Be a team player and make sure nobody will be held up waiting of you. Don’t forget souvenirs for those who were helpful to you, and an invitation to help them out next time they go away! It’s huge to know you’re covered.
5. Organize Your Space
Take 10-15 minutes before you leave and organize your desk. Label anything that might be needed by a boss or co-worker, leave any important passwords or keys with a supervisor or someone who has permission. Clear off folders & coffee cups, and work through your inbox so you’re space AND your mind are clutter-free.
Set those messages. Email, voicemail, cell phone, white board on your door… whatever it takes! Double check that they work. Send yourself an email from your personal account, call from another phone line, etc. Your email message should include dates you’ll be gone and perhaps someone else to contact for specific needs (preferably someone you’ve discussed it with, #4!). Luckily all important people will already know you’re gone (#2!!!), but this helps people not feel forgotten about.
Turn off the lights, shut the door, and check OUT. You’re on vacation, enjoy it! WE are leaving for vacation so soon… I can almost taste it! I hope you all have a great Friday! Caio!
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