Obvious, right? We all know how to take a vacation. But what if you have a job- and a demanding job at that? How can you get away from work when there is so much to do?
Planning: When you’re thinking about taking a vacation, consider the timing. You won’t want to leave in the middle of a project or before a big launch. Find out in advance a mutually agreeable time from your boss so you’re not stressed while away from the office. Some bosses prefer that you’re away when they’re away, and others prefer that you cover for them or manage in their place. Once you plan your vacation, inform your boss of the exact dates that you will be away.
Ask for Help: If you have people reporting to you, you should have a second in command or if you work closely with other people, ask them for their help. These people should be able to cover for you while you are gone – and you can do the same when he or she takes a vacation. You can voice this ahead of time to this person so that it becomes a win-win situation for both of you.
Tell people you will be out: Tell everyone you work closely with that you will be out of the office and assure key individuals or clients that you are well covered. Provide them with the name of the person who will be covering for you, whom they can go to in your absence. If you are working on a team project, give your teammates ample notice that you will be out of the office and ensure that you will get your part done before you go or immediately upon your return. As long as you are not leaving anyone in the dark there should be no surprises.
Give your boss a countdown: Periodically remind your boss about your upcoming vacation. More than likely this is not top of their mind. This way he or she isn’t surprised or unprepared when you go.
Set ground rules: Set boundaries. Let your boss know that you only plan to check emails from “time to time”. It is best to be vague. This way you won’t be compelled or feel obligated to check your phone or email all the time. Don’t set yourself up or pin yourself down. Too much information about your availability is bad. You don’t want to be too reachable on vacation, but you don’t want to check out completely either.
Review the plan with your boss: Meet with your boss to review who will be handling what in your absence and to offload all the loose ends. Being proactive about this will show your boss how dedicated you are. Let your boss know what could arise in your absence and what work you hope to have finished, or not. After this kind of meeting you can let go of the office and go on vacation responsibly with a clear mind.
Get organized: Before you head out for your vacation, organize your desk, clear your email and voicemail boxes, tie up any remaining loose ends (even if that means putting in a little extra time before you go) and make sure your boss knows the plan.
Try not to think about work: Use your time off to catch up on sleep, read a new book and spend time with friends and family. Let your vacation be a stark reminder that you have control over your level of relaxation and apply that at work when you return.
Most important? Let yourself relax. By taking time away from work to unplug and reconnect with other people and things in your life that also make you happy, you actually come back to the workplace recharged and more productive. You also will reap all the health benefits as presented in one of my previous blogs: Tips from the Beach Boys. Check out that blog for some great reasons why you need to take this well deserved vacation!
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