9 Steps to take before leaving the Office for Vacation

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According to a 2017 survey by Glassdoor, the average US employee takes about half of their provided vacation time in a 12-month period. From this same survey, it was found that when Americans do use their vacation time, two out of three people are still checking into work anyways. These statistics are concerning, as vacations are incredibly important to not only one’s mental and physical health, but work performance in general. Whether you feel guilty about adding your work to a co-worker’s plate, are worried about your work piling up, or are simply a control freak, uninterrupted vacations are still possible when you plan accordingly. Here are the steps to take to smoothly transition from work mode to vacation mode, guilt-free.

Step 1: Mark the work calendar.

Once your vacation is approved, immediately mark it on all work calendars to avoid future conflicts with other members on your team. This will also be a good visual for yourself so you can see how much time you have to plan.

Step 2: Make a detailed list of what’s pending.

Make a list of all of your active projects you are currently working on. Start this list sooner rather than later as you may think of more tasks as the week goes on. From this list, decide what tasks can wait until you get back from vacation and what deadlines will arise while you’re out. For all of the tasks that cannot wait, decide who on your team could best handle that task.

Step 3: Set up meetings with co-workers who are covering for you.

Sit down with your co-workers and let them know what will be added to their plate while you are away. Be mindful that they still have their own job to do. With that being said, write everything down so nothing gets forgotten. Create detailed “cheat sheets” that includes step-by-step instructions on tasks that they aren’t familiar with, including all passwords they might need. Be sure to think of everything that could go possibly wrong while you are gone so your co-workers know how to address these issues and won’t have to call you. Have them practice while you’re still in the office and address any questions. And lastly, be thankful! Even though they may not have much of a choice, they are doing you a favor. Be prepared to do the same for them when they take vacation time. Bringing back a souvenir is always a nice gesture!

Step 4: Keep your boss in the loop.

Let your boss know who will be handling your duties while you are on vacation. Not only will it help your boss know who to check in with on certain projects, but they will also appreciate that you took the responsibility to make sure everything was covered.

Step 5: Contact your top clients.

Don’t let your top clients find out you’re on vacation by your out-of-office message. This could cause panic without notice leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth for the future. Call or email your clients ahead of time and let them know who they can contact while you are away. This could also be a good excuse from a sales point of view to check in and put your company back on their radar.

Step 6: Create out-of-office messages.

Sure, this is common sense. However, with all of the other chaos happening on your last day before vacation, it’s something that is easily forgotten. Create your out-of-office voicemail and email message before you head out, and make sure you include contact information of a co-worker who can assist them in your absence.

Step 7: Write down priorities that need to be addressed when you return.

Have you ever walked in on a Monday morning struggling to remember where you left off the week prior? Well, it’s not any easier to remember after taking a vacation. Make a list of what you need to accomplish when you return. This way you won’t forget something important, and your mind won’t be racing your entire vacation trying to keep track of what is due.

Step 8: Clean off your desk.

Did a tornado come through here? When you work quickly the week leading up to your vacation, things tend to get a bit messy. Take some time to clean up and organize your desk before you leave. The last thing you want is to come back refreshed and ready to work, but instead have to spend time cleaning up pre-vacation clutter.

Step 9: Say your goodbyes.

Not everyone is going to remember that you are going on vacation, so a reminder doesn’t hurt. This is also a good time to let them know if you will be available by phone or email. If all of the above steps were handled properly and not rushed, you shouldn’t have to be available or feel like you have to check in. It’s okay to utilize your vacation to get away from work, but just be honest with your co-workers and boss that you will not be checking your work email.

Whether you’re spending your vacation on the beach or on the couch, it is hardly serving its purpose if co-workers are calling you or you’re constantly stressing about the mess you will be coming back to. The extra effort it takes to make sure everything is under control while you are away will be well worth it. Enjoy!

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