Most Americans don’t take all of their vacation time. And that’s a shame, because a well-deserved break can banish burn-out and boost productivity.
Many of us harbor unreasonable fears that while we’re away things will go south … or we’ll be bad-mouthed … or we’ll return to a truly insurmountable volume of work. But by following these nine steps, you can take a vacation—even two whole weeks off—knowing everything is running smoothly in your absence.
Step 1: Make a list of everything you’ll need to handle both before and after you return; if possible, schedule crucial projects to start after your break.
Step 2: Complete as many tasks as possible before you leave so you can return to a (relatively) clean desk. This will not only ease your mind; it will ease the minds of your boss and colleagues.
Step 3: Give coworkers and the boss all the information they’ll need to carry out routine tasks, meetings, phone calls, emails, and issues that may arise in your absence.
Step 4: Ask appropriate individuals to cover for you on critical ongoing projects. Meet with them to go over the nitty gritty of each assignment.
Step 5: List each person filling in for you in your out-of-office email. Include their contact information and what they’ll be taking care of. On your voicemail, supply contact information for a colleague who can appropriately direct callers.
Step 6: Notify coworkers outside your department that you’ll be away and who to turn to in your stead. This should reduce the number of emails and voicemails you’ll need to deal with when you return.
Step 7: Clean your cube or office, clear your email and voicemail inboxes, and cancel any meetings you may have set for the time you’re away.
Step 8: Determine if you’ll have cell phone coverage and internet access at your destination. While you’re gone, if you must check in from the beach, the mountaintop, or a foreign country, do so at a set time every day (or every other day) for no more than ten minutes.
Step 9: Give one coworker your cell, with instructions to call in an emergency. Don’t neglect to define what constitutes an emergency.
A vacation is good for both the mind and the soul. So follow these nine steps and don’t let unfounded concerns stop you for taking the vacation you want, need, and are entitled to!