I am Outta’ HERE!
One of the givens of American culture is that at sometime during the summer months everybody at work will take a vacation. This means that we work around each other’s schedule, postpone meetings, move deadlines up or back, and while we may not celebrate our colleagues’ absence, at least we forgive it.
Helping our client prepare for their exodus from work in a systemized manner will make their vacation all more wonderful.
Below are the 10 Tips to prepare for your vacation!
1. Two Weeks Prep Gives One Week Off
American workers are never more productive than in the two week prior to leaving for vacation. This is about the right amount of time to be mindful that the goal you are working toward is getting out the door for a much-needed and well-deserved break. How you prepare in these two weeks will set the comfort level under which you leave the office on that fateful Friday.
2. Record all Outstanding Tasks on a To Do list
Capture all ad hoc tasks into one trusted location. It can be a Word document, your Outlook Task List, a notebook, or journal. This list will be overwhelming at first glance. But it allows you to leave the office confident that you are not forgetting anything. Use your calendar to schedule the high priority items as appointment for the week you return.
3. Know your Projects’ Status
Use a project tracker to “mark” where you stand in each of your projects. The purpose of this is to track where you stand in each project and to record what your next steps will be upon your return. This can be a notebook with one page dedicated to each project, an Excel spread sheet, a Word doc, or your Outlook Task List. The tool does not matter as much as the practice.
4. Meet with your Boss.
At least three days before you are scheduled to leave on vacation, meet with your boss to reiterate the dates of your vacation. Spend time updating her on the status of outstanding projects. Discuss at what stage you expect to be in each projects before you leave and how you intend to handle them upon your return.
5. Communicate with Co-Workers.
Remind your coworkers of your vacations dates. Update them on any project items that may fall to them in your absence. Let them know where any paper information they may need is located in your work space. Copy electronic data onto a flash drive, label it, and leave it with them.
6. Decide your “Power-Off” policy
A survey by Expdia shows that 4% of Americans CONSTANTLY check Email while on vacation and 31% said they check it sometime. You NEED and deserve to be untethered from your job while on vacation. With your boss, decide what you would like your power-off policy to be. Inform coworkers, vendors and other interested parties what your accessibility is. Change your outgoing voice mail message to indicate that you are away and will not be checking messages, indicate who they should contact in your absence, and your return date. Create an “Out of Office” reply for your Email with the same information.
7. Block out “Catch Up” Time
Keep the first morning back in the office completely free of schedule meetings. Block the time on your calendar as “booked” so that coworkers do not schedule into it while you are gone. Create an important-sounding meeting title, i.e. Project Status Update Meeting with (boss’s name). Do NOT call it “catch up or blocked time.” It will be gone before you leave the building.
8. Have a strategy to “Pay the Piper” for Being Gone.
You will return to a desk full of paper, a full voice mailbox, and a deluge of Email. Don’t panic. The following strategy will get you through it.
First, review your To Do list before you check your Email. These were your priorities before your left. There is no reason to think they are not STILL your priorities.
Then check your voice mail. Do not return any phone calls now; simply add any actions needed to your To Do list.
Next do an initial sweep through your Email ruthlessly discarding any Email you can delete immediately.
Next, do another sweep of your inbox looking for high priority Emails- those from your boss, your boss’s boss, or those relevant to any projects you have pending. Only respond to those Emails which will take less than a minute.
Then process the others, meaning move to your Electronic Task List, change the Email subject line to indicate the action or add your personal action technique.
9. Dive Back to Work
Now you can begin the process of reprioritizing this information into your To Do list and scheduling priority items into your calendar.
Leave your office and ENJOY your vacation. Time spent in recreational activities with family and friends can be the most productive time you have. It is restorative and rejuvenating. It clears your mind for more creative endeavors. Plus it’s just plain FUN!