I don’t know about you, but I’ve found going on vacation or taking a few days off can be a stressful experience! Trying to get everything in order before you go and then coming back to a full inbox, a day of meetings, and many demands can challenge the benefits of vacation. Have you ever found yourself responding to the common question “Hey, how was your vacation?” on your first day back after vacation with “Vacation, what vacation?” I have. Sad, but true! I am certainly not the role model when it comes to vacation for sure. I typically stay connected taking calls and responding to emails. This is certainly an area I’m trying to improve upon myself as I do believe everyone needs to get away and recharge. Even a quick email or short phone call snaps you away from your vacation and family and in the long run reduces your effectiveness in your job and other parts of your life. So, this is a case of do what I say, not as I do. I am trying to improve in this area. Regardless, here are some things you can do to help make your escape to vacation and your return to the real world a little easier.
Before you go:
- TIP: When you book your vacation, block off in your calendar the last day before you go and the first day you return, then be very selective as to what meetings you book on those days, if any. Give yourself the opportunity to clear your inbox, ensure delegation is set-up, take care of any priorities that need to be looked after when you are gone, and give yourself sometime to deal with the inevitable last minute before vacation “crisis” that surely will pop up.
- Appoint a delegate to look after things for you. Advise your team who this is and how to contact them. Turn on your out of office notification and put this contact information in the notification so that when others beyond your team try to contact you, they will realize you are out of the office and will know who to contact should they need to do so, rather than wait for your return.
- Depending on your level of responsibility, provide someone you trust with your contact information should there be a urgent matter or emergency in which you need to be reached. This maybe your cell phone number or contact information as to where you will be staying. This may or may not be your assigned delegate. Let your team know you are not checking or responding to emails or texts while you are gone. Be sure to leave clear instructions as to what constitutes an urgent matter or emergency.
- TIP: I picked this one up recently from my current boss and found it to be a great add to vacation planning. Leave instructions with your team to summarize key issues or problems you need to be aware of or where they need your help immediately upon your return. If you have an assistant they can consolidate all these items in one email and send to you upon your return. If you don’t have an assistant, then you can assign this to your delegate. The intent here is that this short list will allow you to quickly focus on the most important items immediately upon your return rather than trying to sort through all your emails or reacting as things come to your attention somewhat randomly throughout the day.
- Review the consolidated list from your team of the urgent matters they need your immediate assistance with. Use this list to set your priorities for your first day back. Schedule urgent meetings or phone calls as necessary to address these issues.
- Check-in with your delegate to see how things went and if there is anything you need to know about or follow-up on.
- TIP: Create a “Vacation holding” file within your email and move all the emails received while you were gone, other than the last 1-2 days, to this file. Then sort through and process the remaining emails from the past 1-2 days. If something comes up that you need to search through the emails in the vacation holding file, you have them available. After a week or so, if you haven’t found you need any emails from this folder you can go ahead and delete them.
- Reflect on what worked well and what didn’t before, during, and after your vacation so you can tweak your vacation routine accordingly.
- TIP: Book your next vacation!
Most of these are pretty common and nothing special, but hopefully you picked up a couple of new tips.
Please leave a comment and let us know any tips you may have to help others reduce their vacation stress!