Although taking time off is very exciting, it’s not a great idea to let yourself mentally check out before you’ve left the office. If you don’t prepare correctly, you’ll find yourself with an abundance of phone calls, emails, missed meetings, and questions from colleagues upon your return. To avoid stress when you come back from vacation, we’ve provided a checklist to help you prepare for your departure.
1. Place conflicts on your calendar
Put your time off conflicts on your calendar as soon as you can, so that people know when you’re not available. If you don’t let people know that you’re unavailable at certain times, they might book an appointment or meeting with you while you’re out of the office. Consequently, when you return to work, you’ll see that you missed meetings, phone calls, and you may even have frustrated or confused customers wondering why you weren’t responsive.
If you’re looking for a calendar tool to help, we recommend Calendly. Calendly is a scheduling tool that syncs up with your email program to keep your availability up-to-date. You can use their system to book meetings with customers, clients, and colleagues. The way this works, for example, is that you can enter your vacation conflicts on your Outlook calendar, and the Calendly calendar will automatically sync your conflicts to their calendar. This means that your conflict dates will no longer be available on Calendly, and people will not be able to book time with you while you’re on vacation.
2. Create an automated email & voicemail
Your colleagues and customers might wonder why you’ve gone days without responding, so it’s a good idea to create an automated reply. You should create an automated email reply and a voicemail greeting. It’s recommended that your message has a greeting, explains that you’ll be out of the office, and contains the dates that you will be unavailable and when you’ll return. Some people will even provide another colleague’s contact information for urgent matters. Here are some examples of different ways that you can set up your out-of-office messages.
3. Inform your colleagues that you’ll be away
Not all businesses use a time tracking system with an organized time off calendar; therefore, your colleagues might not know that you are leaving for vacation. Although an automated email and voicemail is a good thing to do, it’s still a wise idea to send an email to your colleagues about a week before you leave. This will give them a chance to ask you any questions and tie up any loose ends before you head out on your adventure.
4. Contact your important clients
If you’re working with a client on a regular basis, you will want to let them know that you’re going to be out of the office. Just as you informed your colleagues, it’s a good idea to let your clients and customers know that you will not be available for a certain amount of time. If they need to take care of things while you’re gone, give them another colleague’s contact information so they can get assistance when needed.
5. Make yourself a checklist
In order to avoid a big “to do” list when you get back, make an organized list of your projects and tasks. About a week before you leave, create a list of projects you are actively working on and write down how you will finish those projects. Write down any important notes, progress updates, and attach necessary documents to a shareable form. The more detailed you are, the more informed your colleagues will be. Make sure that you write down very specific details about your projects in case someone else has to take them on while you’re away. If someone isn’t familiar with your project, they might not be able to assist you without incredibly detailed notes and instructions.
Decide what tasks can wait until you get back and what projects need to be done sooner. What do you want to complete before you leave? What can you complete when you get back? Once all of your projects and tasks are lined up, delegate the most important and urgent tasks to team members who can finish it while you’re gone. Once you get back, you’ll have an organized list of things that need to be done. This will save you a lot of stress!
6. Clean out your office
This step is vital, yet often forgotten. If you’re on vacation for a few days or weeks, it’s incredibly important that you make sure that you clean your office. Wipe down your desk, take out your trash, and water your plants. No one wants to smell 1.5-week-old banana peels left in your trash can, and people will likely forget to water your plants while you’re gone. Clean up and prepare for your arrival so that you can return to the office re-energized and ready to go.