Get over yourself!
You know you must take a vacation. Whether your boss is insisting, your spouse is demanding or your own good sense is compelling you to grab some down time, unwind, energize and detach, it’s also the right thing to do.
Though you’d like to think you’re indispensable, if your office isn’t ready to function without you for a week or two, something is really wrong (unless your company is a one-person operation).
But sound judgment (and your ego) suggests detaching completely may not work for you. You want to hold on loosely while ensuring the wheels are turning and the trains are running on time — figuratively, of course, unless you’re in transportation and logistics.
Here are a few ways to enjoy your vacation while keep your business running smoothly.
- Plan: Meet with your managers and direct reports. Review current projects and timelines. Make sure everyone understands what‘s expected of them during your absence and upon your return. Schedule post-vacation meetings and other appointments. Don’t load yourself up on the first day; give yourself a bit of time to ease into things, if possible.
- Delegate: All good companies must develop their people. It should be an ongoing priority. If you’re a manager, a vacation is the perfect opportunity for you to ask team members to take on additional tasks and try out new roles. Even in lean and mean times, there should always be some redundancy in case of unplanned absence and illness. Your vacation, a planned absence, could serve as a development opportunity and a nice way to discover which team members are ready for more responsibility, and who might need some extra coaching.
- Manage expectations: Communicate with support staff and other relevant stakeholders (colleagues, clients, vendors) a few weeks ahead of your vacation — and again, a few days prior to departure. If a key client has been dealing with you directly on an issue, make sure he/she isn’t surprised by your absence and is prepared to work with your surrogate (or wait until your return).
- Ditch the email: Whether it’s on your smart phone, your tablet, your laptop or your watch, it’s all too easy to check your email and get drawn in to office minutiae. If you must be on call, make sure your boss and a trusted associate can reach you in case of an actual emergency, a life-or-death situation or other crucial circumstances. If you must check your email, keep it to a minimum (once or twice a day, at most) and don’t respond to any routine messages, as it will encourage more of them and undermine your vacation. And don’t forget to set your “out-of-office” email autoresponder!
- Hold all calls: Same as with email, if you answer your phone, you’ll just invite more of them. Make judicious use of Caller ID and if you’re still not sure whether to answer or not, let ‘em leave a message so you’ll know if it’s something requiring your immediate attention. And be sure to change your voice-mail message to reflect your absence, with contact information for the person covering for you.
- Review: When you get back to the office, consider what worked and what (or who) fell short of your expectations (including yourself, if you failed to adequately enjoy your time away from the office). Make the necessary adjustments for your next vacation.