Vacations are sometimes hampered by a frantic lead-up in the days before, by trying to accomplish too much while you’re supposed to be relaxing, and by feeling like you’re overwhelmed as soon as you return to the office. Thoughtful preparation and a plan for your return can help lower the stress level of your next vacation.
Preparing for vacation
- Be practical when planning to tackle work items during your vacation. Long travel times, attending to children and just plain enjoying yourself will all limit the amount of time you have available to address office-related tasks. Determine which items can be delegated to others, which must be handled before you leave, and which can wait until you return.
- Set realistic communication expectations. Time zone differences, availability of communication services, and access to reference material could all limit your ability to maintain contact during your vacation. If you’re likely to be incommunicado, be up front with your team and let them know your limitations. Setting unattainably high expectations for your ability to maintain contact will only cause problems for you and your project team members.
- Take care of outstanding invoices and purchase orders before you leave. Delaying these items could cause significant problems.
- You’ll have items requiring follow up soon after your return—write these down and put the list on your desk or in your tickler file. Include notes such as contact information, part numbers, order or tracking numbers, location of related files, and who was handling the matter during your absence to facilitate a low-stress return to work.
- Change your voicemail greeting and e-mail out-of-office response to reflect your absence. Give callers your return date, and who they can contact for assistance in the interim. You should also indicate if you will or will not be checking messages while you’re gone.
- Consider leaving a note on your door or inter-office mailbox with the dates you’ll be gone. Your note should also direct coworkers to the person handling your correspondence and other matters during your absence.
- Block out time on your calendar for your first day back, to give yourself an opportunity to sift through any communications–e-mails, voicemails, inbound mail, memos, etc. If possible, it’s also a good idea to schedule a brief meeting with your team to quickly get up-to-speed on the status of your project.
Returning from vacation
- Your first priority should be to review your schedule for the next few days. New meetings and meeting requests must be noted early, and responded to if still pending.
- If you followed the preparation tips above, you already have time blocked out to get up to speed on new e-mail and voicemail messages, as well as to look through your incoming mail and other communications. Sort your e-mail inbox by sender, giving first priority to your supervisor(s), fellow team members, and administrative support folks. Listen to all of your voicemail messages before taking action on any of them—later messages may give additional information or set you on a new course.
- If you didn’t have a delegate available to handle incoming invoices and purchase requests during your absence, you should address these next to avoid late fees or project delays.
- Touch base with the key members of your project team to get an update on outstanding issues, the current status of items you were working on before your vacation, and anything that may have come up while you were gone.
- Bring out the list you created of follow up items and begin addressing them in order of priority.
PODCAST: De-stress Make the Most of Your Vacation. To listen CLICK HERE