The trip has been on the office calendar for weeks, but now, with a week to go, it’s time to make sure your clients, colleagues, and workload don’t feel neglected. We’ve outlined the key steps to help you prepare to disconnect for optimum pre-vacation productivity, as well as some words of wisdom as you ease back into your job after the time away.
Tend to the Workload
Reviewing the priority tasks or projects which need to be completed before you go helps you grasp exactly what you need to do before you leave. Be realistic about what tasks are possible to complete before your allotted time frame, or start working on it early enough to allow for unexpected delays or obstacles.
In the case of ongoing tasks, delegate that work for your time away. An example might be responding to customer queries or handling social media. For tasks and projects to be completed at a date after you return, communicate with your team to make sure their elements of the project continue to garner attention while you are absent.
Next, we’ll cover delegating and communicating in a little more detail.
Communicate and Inform
- Delegate day-to-day or ongoing tasks so they do not accumulate or make you (or your team) look like you’re neglecting the work. This is essential for anyone in customer support, social media, content marketing, or acting as a client/freelancer liaison.
- Clearly communicate who on your team will handle which elements of your work while you’re away so there is no confusion or stepping on toes. Sit down with your team and brief them so they know how to handle situations in your absence. What do they need to do in certain circumstances? If a problem escalates, how should it be handled? These are the things that may wake you in the middle of the night on vacation to send an email with a back-up plan.
- Don’t forget your clients and customers. If you are in the midst of a project, communication, or negotiation, say who is the point person on your team until you return. Don’t wait and let them find out from an autoreply to their email. Set up the auto reply in your email ahead of time and schedule it to begin at least two hours before the end of your final pre-trip working day. This frees you up to clear your desk. Otherwise, you may be tempted to respond to emails up until the last minute.
The last two steps are setting you up for the all-important disconnect. But it means nothing if you don’t follow through – turn off notifications on your mobile phone and avoid bringing your dedicated work laptop or phone with you on your trip. In some cases, you can also turn off email on your phone on vacation. Remember, a vacation isn’t just a change of latitude, but a change of attitude as well.
Focus on your vacation while you’re away and enjoy the company of your family, or friends to make the most of the trip or you will return to the office feeling like part of you never left.
Don’t publicize your absence publicly. Social media makes sharing every moment very easy and gratifying, but if you’ve left an empty house behind, and you have no privacy settings on your social media accounts, it may be worth delaying vacation sharing until you’ve returned.
Returning to Work
Upon returning to work, remove your auto-reply, review your calendar and messages, then respond to your time-sensitive and important emails (remember our Urgent & Important lessons).
Take time to catch up with colleagues and teammates – face-to-face if possible – to learn what progress and decisions may have been made in your absence gets you up to speed on the latest developments. Embracing decisions that they made is part of trusting your team, so listen to updates without criticism.
The key to enjoying your break is to plan ahead, hand over work, and arrange catch-ups when you get back.