Every year I see lots of people getting stressed out about the work they have to do before, during and after their vacation. In this short article I want to share my top 10 tips with you for getting the most out of your vacation.
1. Plan ahead
Many people claim their jobs do not allow them to do so. However, there are many advantages to planning ahead, including lower prices, greater choice and far less stress closer to the actual vacation itself. If you were to agree with your boss/team that you’re going to have 3 weeks off in 6 months from now, no reasonable person would blame you for planning such a long vacation. In fact, they would probably admire your discipline.
2. Pass the ball on to others before you leave
Everybody likes to make sure that it is business as usual while they are off on a well-deserved vacation. To make sure it does, you need to make a list of everything you have to do before you leave. Make sure you do not park any important activities until you get back. Take appropriate action and pass the ball on to others before you leave.
3. Don’t take on too much work close to your departure and immediately after your return
Do not take on any new assignments you cannot complete before your vacation. Block some time in your calendar to take care of any unfinished business. Do not schedule any important meetings that require preparation immediately after your vacation. Spend the first couple of days after your return following up on things and preparing important meetings.
4. Tell important partners/contacts that you are going to be away on vacation
There are many advantages to doing so. It is the professional thing to do. It shows respect and provides clarity while managing expectations. It hopefully means that people will only contact you when absolutely necessary and will leave everything else that can wait until after you get back.
5. Activate an out of office reply
Create an automatic out of office reply which includes information such as who to contact in urgent cases and when you are going to be back. Don’t forget to discuss this with the people you mention in your of out of office reply! Stay committed to your out of office reply. Be consistent and do not reply to emails during your vacation. If you break your own rule this might confuse the sender. Is he/she at work or on vacation?
6. Book preferably 3-4 weeks
From personal experience I know it can be scary to be away from your daily routine, jobs, friends, etc. for such a long time. There are many advantages to booking a long vacation as not everybody finds it easy to switch off and most of us need at least a couple of days to do so. On top of that a 3-4 week vacation tends to be less expensive than 2-3 separate ones.
7. Switch off your work related devices during your vacation
Leave your work smartphone at home during your vacation! You may say, are you nuts? How can I? Trust me, it is possible. I do it almost every year and I recommend the same to all professionals I work with. Just give it a try and experience how it feels.
8. Don’t work during your vacation
Do yourself and your colleagues, incl. your boss, a huge favor: don’t work during your vacation. Personally, I don’t see any advantages to working during your vacation. The message it sends to your network is that you are not in control, that you are disorganized, insecure, and lack self-respect and self-confidence. A few like-minded people may admire your commitment. However, because you feel obliged to act you might become irritated and emotional. It might lead to you sending out mixed messages, which could be costly for your image and position. If you are good at your job, your colleagues and boss will realize how precious you are for the company. You can make this tangible by not working during your vacation.
9. Make a note of brilliant ideas
Psychologists claim that some 60,000-70,000 thoughts and ideas come to our mind every day. One or two of these might be brilliant. If you feel that you have a good idea, write it down on a piece of paper or make a note of it on your mobile device, so that you can work on it after your vacation.
10. Do not consider yourself more important than you are
OK I admit, there are exceptions. There are things that need to be taken care of at the highest political level. But don’t worry, there is good news. You’re neither the president of United States nor the leader of North Korea. I have lived in the Netherlands for over 17 years. In that time not many governments have stayed on for the 4 full year term. That’s not great and we pay the price for discontinuity, but it’s no big deal. It’s business as usual for the majority of us. The lesson I take from this is that everybody is replaceable. So, enjoy your vacation!
Originally published at first-class-leadership.com