As a busy and valued employee, there may never be a “perfect” time for you to take a vacation. But with the right preparation, and support from your team, you can take the time off you’ve earned.
Get Organized Before You Go
Once you’ve decided to take time off, share your dates with your manager as soon as you can — before booking flights and accommodation, if possible. This way, you can be sure the time is approved and complements other team members’ time off before your vacation is set in stone.
Once you’re able to book your vacation, let your team know about your time off right away to get a head start on managing work and deadlines. A great way to remind your colleagues about your time off is to book your vacation time in your work calendar as a quick 9am meeting, and invite key team members to it, so they can easily remember what days you’ll be out.
It’s also a good idea to start a to-do list of what work you’ll need to complete before you go away, so you can tie up any loose ends with ease.
Ensure You Have Back Up
Use your lead time to communicate with internal and external peers before you go:
- Ask for coverage if needed — you don’t want to have to worry about a deadline or a deliverable when you’re on vacation and may not have access to email or Wi-Fi.
- If a colleague has offered assistance or coverage, forward them a note that includes your ask and all other details they may need.
- Let your external clients and partners know about your upcoming vacation plans, who to contact in your absence and when they can expect your return.
- In your personal life, you’re asked to have an emergency contact, so why not establish this at work as well? In the event that issues need to be escalated or handled in a timely manner while you’re away, who should be contacted? Nominate a peer, ask for their assistance, and communicate with the rest of the team who your contact will be while you’re away.
- Draft and schedule a detailed out of office message that explicitly states the dates you’ll be away, how available or unavailable you’ll be during that time, and who to contact should an immediate response be required.
Need an “Out Of Office” message template? Fill in the blanks below.
Thank you for your email. I’m out of the office from [DATE – DATE] with [limited / no] access to email. If this is urgent, please contact [NAME, TITLE] via [EMAIL / PHONE], otherwise I will get back to you on [DATE].
Best, [YOUR NAME, TITLE]
Set Yourself Up for a Smooth Return
One of the most stressful parts of returning to work is a looming inbox of unopened emails. Anticipating the work you’ll come back to before you go away is a great way to manage this hurdle:
- Create a to-do list of things you know must be done the first day back from vacation, and leave it right on your desk.
- Book meetings with key colleagues for the afternoon of your first day back to get caught up on what you missed while you were away.
- Make a list of automated or marketing emails you’re subscribed to, and then create a rule in your email settings to send these messages to a separate folder. You can look through these messages at a later date, and focus on catching up on internal requests and conversations first.
Don’t let the fear of work piling up while you’re away from the office prevent you from taking the personal time you’ve earned. With a little preparation and organization, you can go a long way in helping your colleagues manage in your absence.