After hanging up from a business call just before takeoff, my seatmate turned to me and said – with a rueful laugh – “I’m not really going on vacation, I’m just going to work from the beach for a week!”.
We all know a vacation is much more than just an opportunity to get a tan — it’s a mental-health break that we need, a time to leave stress behind and relax, rejuvenate, re-energize, and refocus ourselves so we can go home feeling great.
To get the most out of your all-inclusive vacation, it’s critical to STOP worrying about work, and these tips* should help!
- Plan Ahead – starting at least a month ahead of your vacation do this:
- Block out your vacation time on your calendar and reschedule any standing meetings or calls. If you can’t reschedule, make sure other participants know you won’t be participating during that week.
- Complete any projects so you won’t be scrambling at the last minute, or feeling pressured to work on them when you should to be working on your tan.
- If you need to, get ahead by logging an extra hour or two daily for a week or two before you leave.
- Delegate – what good is having co-workers if you can’t help each other out? Be sure to:
- Ask a trusted co-worker to field critical issues and make decisions on your behalf in your absence.
- Cross-train someone to handle any minor tasks that may still have to be performed daily while you’re away.
- Consider getting a temp if there’s enough to do that can’t be put off for a week.
- Communicate – a little ‘offense’ is the best ‘defense’, so don’t forget to:
- Notify co-workers and your important customers (those that are accustomed to calling or emailing you regularly) well in advance of your vacation, so they can plan and adjust if needed.
- Clarify any expectations with your boss/co-workers/teammates about your availability (or lack of) while you’re on vacation (for example, I only check my email once per day) and their responsibilities.
- Create an auto-reply for your email and an out-of-office greeting for your voicemail advising anyone trying to reach you that you’re out, when you’ll be back, and whom they can contact in case of an issue that can’t wait.
- Document Procedures – there’s nothing like a little ‘CYA’ to alleviate the concern of “you didn’t tell me that!”, so be sure to:
- Put in writing (in an email is fine) the responsibilities of anyone taking on your tasks, including any that you’re going to continue doing, while you’re out.
- Make a list of passwords, from computer/website logins to alarm codes, that someone might need in your absence – be sure it’s stored safely or left with a trusted individual.
- Record a quick video of you performing any key procedures for easy reference.
- Set Boundaries – If it’s not possible to disconnect entirely and just leave the office behind, consider these tips:
- Use Texting – If your boss or co-workers need to get in touch, texting is almost always less expensive than calling, and more sensitive to your time, as it negates the need or temptation to engage in small talk and office gossip.
- Work only 1 hour a day – and make it before or after regular business hours to minimize interaction with your office. I use my first hour of the morning to answer email, and remind those I respond to that I’ll be ‘offline’ until the following morning. Avoid the temptation to ‘check in’ with the office more frequently – you’ll just be training your boss and co-workers to rely on you being available when you should be hitting the beach or golf course.
- Go mobile [only] – a productivity app for your smartphone or tablet can be a great substitute for a laptop for your 1 hour per day ‘work time’ (and maybe a great excuse to push back on requests…”I don’t have my computer!”…?).
- Get back in the Groove – Sometimes it seems like coming back to work after a vacation is worse than not leaving…..avoid that stress with these tips:
- Give yourself a cushion – Keep your calendar clear for the first couple of days back to give yourself time to get caught up without unnecessary distractions, but DO meet with your boss/co-workers to come up to speed on anything you need to know about that may have happened while you were away.
- Bring back a few surprises – Remember to reward your teammates for pitching in and pulling your weight with a souvenir from your trip – it’s always nice to be appreciated!
- Share your gratitude – Strengthen your relationships with co-workers by praising them for handling things while you were gone. Remember that YOU become more valuable to others when you make THEM look good!
BEFORE you leave:
DURING your vacation:
AFTER you get home:
* Reprinted with the kind permission of the Small Business Online Community at Bank of America, where this article first appeared as an infographic.
How do you manage balancing work and vacation? Share your tips!