The Ultimate Pre-vacation Checklist: How to Happily Leave Work Behind

June 23, 2014


Are you so busy at work that you’re literally afraid to go on vacation for more than a day or two for fear that things will fall apart without you? Even though that’s highly unlikely, with the right preparations, you can take a vacation with your mind at ease. Here’s how to minimize the stress of being way from the office.

Before you go:

  • Wrap up as many projects and tasks as you can. Write a list of the things that need to be concluded and check them off, one by one.
  • Tell colleagues, clients, and supervisors at least a week in advance what day you’re leaving, and what day you’re returning. That way, they won’t be surprised to see an empty chair the first day you’re away.
  • Designate a backup, then brief that person on where you keep crucial project materials, files, and numbers. Also tell them about tasks that you perform daily/weekly, and anything important that might occur while you’re away. He or she should field questions about your projects, and answer e-mail and phone messages as necessary.
  • Give that co-worker your travel itinerary and contact information so they can reach you should a really vital question or crisis arise. Be specific about what constitutes a true emergency. Colleagues should be able to make routine decisions without you. 
  • Change your phone and e-mail greetings to indicate what days you’ll be gone, when you’ll return, and your backup person’s contact information. Let people know if you’ll be reachable via e-mail and phone.
  • Set limits on how much—if any—work you’ll do while away. If being completely out of the loop is simply too stressful, check in by phone or e-mail at set times.
  • Clean your desk. Take all papers off your desk and place them in files or just out of the way. Returning to a cluttered desk can put you right back into the stressful place you were at before you left!

Remember, the real downside to foregoing vacation time is stress, lost productivity, illness, accidents, and burnout—especially if you’ve gone more than a year without any vacation at all. 

Don’t feel guilty about taking all the time you are entitled to. You and your organization will benefit when you return to work relaxed, recharged, and reinvigorated. 

To help you feel more comfortable taking time away from the office, view ASAP's 'Learn It On-Demand!' Webinar: The Art & Science of Creating Great Procedures Manuals. Stop feeling guilty or worrying every time you are away from the office. Reduce that pile of work on your desk when you return from vacation. Make it easy to get consistent results when you delegate to or cross train a colleague. Learn more.

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/ 

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