We can’t stress enough the importance on regularly asking for time off work and going on holiday. Not only does it decrease the risk of heart disease and depression, but it also improves productivity and lowers stress levels. However, stress can follow you on vacation if you don’t take the appropriate steps before boarding the plane and heading on out somewhere exotic.
Simply put, if you don’t adequately prepare for your vacation, it might just end up becoming a little less relaxing and a little more nerve-wracking. Here are seven things everybody needs to do before going on vacation.
1. Make a checklist
Lists are great, and the more, the merrier. Make different lists for different things: for example, “Things to Do Before I Leave”, “Vacation Planning Checklist”, and “Things to Do When I Get Back”. They’ll help you stay on top of everything, and they’re critical when it comes to alleviating stress. Not only that but also the fact crossing off items on a to-do list feels incredibly good. Make sure you double-check your lists, though; the last thing you want is to beat yourself up while on vacation for not getting through them and, therefore, clearly forgetting to do something you deemed important.
2. Inform colleagues you’ll be away
Unless you’re going on a top secret mission à la 007 style, you’ll need to inform your colleagues you’ll be away and provide them with the dates you’ll be out of the office. Meanwhile, set clear boundaries for everyone in regards to your level of engagement during your vacation: will you be checking in on a daily basis? Will you be available 24/7? Will you have your phone switched off for the entire week? Will you only be reachable by e-mail? You could even call a meeting to remind your colleagues about your “rules of engagement”; this meeting will also allow you and your team to go over any key decisions that need to be made before you head on out to the Caribbean.
3. Identify a 'vacation backup buddy'
Your backup vacation buddy is the colleague (or colleagues) you’ve chosen to cover for you while you’re out of the office. Make sure they know you’ve singled them out as your backup buddy, and they’ve agreed to fill in for you – you don’t want to put anyone in an uncomfortable situation where they suddenly find themselves taking the blame for something they weren’t aware was their responsibility during your absence.
Have a private meeting with them beforehand and brief them on the various tasks they’ll be carrying out as well as inside info on things like picky clients. Don’t forget to update everyone else (especially your boss) on who will be handling your workload, and remember to bring back a little something for your backup buddy as a token of gratitude.
4. Set an out-of-office email and outgoing voicemail
One of the most common things we forget to do before going away on vacation is setting customized out-of-office e-mail and voicemail messages. It might not seem like a big deal, but the 117 angry voicemails from an important client wondering why you’re not returning their calls beg to differ. Set an out-of-office message to let everyone know you’re away, how long you’ll be out, and who to contact in your absence.
5. Contact high-priority clients
When you’re a week or two ahead of your planned vacation, reach out to high-priority clients and inform them you’ll be away. This will allow them enough time to settle any important matters with you before you become unreachable. This, in turn, will show that you care and that you’re thinking of them and that will unquestionably help you build strong client relationships – which, of course, can only be good for business.
6. Leave a list of important passwords
Have you ever found yourself trying to log in to a colleague’s computer who was away on vacation? Perhaps you had to log into a merchant account that only they have access to that is crucial to the company’s day-to-day operation? Chances are you have, and it’s safe to assume you probably ended up spending the entire day trying to contact your colleague for their login credentials but to no avail.
While the company didn’t come to a sudden halt, it did cause things to slow down a little, and that’s why you should always leave a list of important passwords before you go on vacation. These passwords should only be provided to those necessary, and worse comes to worst, you can change them as soon as you get back.
7. Clean your office
One of the most frustrating things about returning to work from a vacation (other than the actual “returning to work” part) is being welcomed back by an eyesore of a workspace. To avoid this, spend the last 20 minutes of your last day at work before your vacation de-cluttering your desk, sorting through those mountains of paper, and checking drawers and cabinets for perishable food (there’s no point trying to deny the fact you have a secret candy drawer).
Check the office refrigerator and throw out any leftovers, and save energy while you’re away by unplugging all your electronics like lamps and chargers. It’s just one less thing to do when you get back to work, and who wants to start cleaning their office on their first day back at work after sunbathing in the Azores for two weeks? Exactly: no one. Meanwhile, by keeping your workstation in a navigable state, the chances of receiving a late-night phone call from a desperate colleague trying to locate an important file will be greatly minimized.
What other things do you do before you go on vacation? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with family, friends, and coworkers who are about to go on a much-needed vacation of their own!