vacationHave you experienced these two realities? 1. It’s amazing how much work we can get done in the 24 hours before we leave on vacation. 2. It’s amazing how much work piles up while on vacation. Here are a few ways to get ahead of the stress that comes on either side of vacation:

1. Calendar vacations as far in advance as possible and block out the days. Also block out times before and after vacation to prepare and re-engage. If you don’t, then it’s just added to your normal work and makes any kind of balance undoable. In that return block of time (half-day?), triage your tasks by importance/urgency/significance until you are “caught up” and get debriefed by those to whom you delegated in order to get up-to-speed quickly.

2. Alert your internal team and external customers of your time away. Change your phone voice mail and set your out-of-office responder. Be very clear in these communiques of the days you are unavailable, when you will be returning and responding to their messages, how they should best leave you a message, and who they can contact in the meantime.

3. Prepare your boss, assistant, and other team members for your departure. Make it clear who is covering for you for which tasks and obligations. Then tell the rest of the team so they know who to go to, instead of bothering you on vacation. Set them up for success with all necessary information to handle most situations well. If lots of situations happen while you are gone causing you to get interrupted frequently, develop better processes when you get back to avert this disturbance for future vacations so that you are not indispensable.

Vacations are essential to your well-being. Don’t avoid them just because you fear the stress before and after taking them. Just better prepare!

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