Avoid Work Stacking Up When You Go On Vacation

July 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Many people avoid taking vacations for one simple reason: they’re nervous that while they’re away, things will fall to pieces back at the office. (You know, because the whole business will shut down if we’re not there. Never mind the 12 years it was in existence before we ever showed up.)

The fact is, we all need some time away, especially in today’s ever-connected world. Vacations are not just important for your mental, physical and emotional health, they’re also important for your work performance. Just a few days away from work, emails and phone calls can help you become more passionate about your work again.

W Hotel, working on a laptop, San Francisco, C...

W Hotel, working on a laptop, San Francisco, California, USA (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

So, when you take time off from the office, truly take time off. No work, no answering emails in the mornings, no fiddling with your phone over lunch. Your boss doesn’t let you take a nap in the middle of the day, so why are you working when you’re on vacation?

Next time you’re planning a long vacation, use these tips to avoid work stacking up while you’re away.

1. Plan early

While your HR department or manager may only request two weeks’ notice, you’ll ideally want to notify your manager or colleagues a few months ahead of time. This will give everyone time to adjust to your absence and plan appropriate coverage for your work.

2. Get coverage

Depending on your job, there are likely certain things that simply can’t be ignored while you’re away. Since you’ve already informed your colleagues of your absence ahead of time, you’ll want to make a list of things you’ll need help with while you’re away. Many times, people are happy to pitch in, knowing that you’ll do the same when they need a break. Just don’t forget to bring them a souvenir.

3. Work ahead

Allison Carter of Roundpeg in Indianapolis (and the inspiration for this post) took a two week trip to Egypt, and spent two months working ahead to prepare:

I knew what my baseline work was, what was owed to retainer clients, and what I could plan for. So every week, I wrote an extra blog post or two to hold in reserve, saved a few more tweets to be scheduled. That way, I wasn’t scrambling in the week before I left to finish two weeks worth of work.

Although that may seem extreme, working ahead for a few weeks (or a few months.) will keep you from stressing yourself out pre-vacation.

4. Give clients plenty of notice

In Allison’s case, she began notifying her clients of her absence a month in advance, then sent them a final reminder one week before with contact information for a fellow colleague. “This way,” she said, “there were no nasty surprises when a client realized I was gone, and the transition was smooth for them.”

5. Stay on top of your inbox

If your email inbox tends to fill up fast, you may want to log in and do a bit of cleaning while you’re away. Don’t respond to messages or start reading too thoroughly – just log in and quickly delete any junk you don’t need. If you spot anything important, flag it so you know what to tackle first upon your return.

The last step? Enjoy your vacation, and remember to truly unplug. This may feel unnatural and difficult, but remind yourself that this is your opportunity to unwind and invest in your personal health.

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