What to do if you must work on vacation
Summer is almost upon us and along with it comes the wonderful time when you leave everything behind and go on vacation. You eagerly picture yourself sitting on a beach while listening to sounds of waves and drinking some margaritas. A well-deserved rest at last.
Unfortunately, stepping out of the work environment doesn’t necessarily mean you can unplug completely. Soon after you lay down on warm sand, your brain starts thinking about unfinished projects, upcoming deadlines and urgent reports. It doesn’t take very long until you turn on the laptop and start answering emails.
Let’s stop right here! Every one of us must rest and if you fail to do what your mind and body need, you might end up being burnt out before you know it. However, if you do need to work even on vacation, you should follow these rules.
Finish as much work as possible. Answer all important emails and finish the most urgent tasks before you even start packing your luggage. Once you start thinking about your vacation, you will become less focused and it will be easier to forget items of your to-do list. Before you leave, try to complete tasks with deadlines right after your return. Otherwise, you will probably end up thinking about them a lot.
Ask a colleague to fill in. Your out-of-office message should include a contact to your colleague who takes over the most pressing tasks in your agenda. Make sure you brief your colleague thoroughly about work to be done while you’re away. Don’t rely solely on the word of mouth! Your colleague is probably very busy, too, and your tasks might easily slip off his mind. Write him all information via email or print out a schedule. Oh, and don’t forget to return the favor and fill in when he is away traveling.
Pick a daily check-in time. If your team needs to reach you, pick an exact time of day during which you will be available. An hour or two after lunch might suit you (depending on your time zone), as this is the time most people decide to take naps so your family or friends might not miss your presence that much. If you ask your colleagues to contact you only in this specific time, you will significantly decrease the number of phone calls during the day.
Write down your ideas. If a brilliant idea comes to you by the pool side, don’t push it away just because you are on vacation. You would probably regret that later. Write it down in your notebook instead and leave it for when you are back in the office. This way, you won’t feel the urge to think about it right away. Going through your notes later, you might be surprised what ideas came to you once you cleared your head from everyday noises.
Plan your return. Don’t schedule meetings for your first day back. It would make you feel too anxious about your return. Instead of this, reserve a few hours for your emails and other urgent business, and then ask a colleague to fill you in on what’s happened in time of your absence. Call for meetings only after you are caught up with the latest development.
Always consider, which tasks are urgent and require your immediate attention, and which can be completed upon your return. Remember, sometimes it is more efficient to unplug completely and recharge your batteries!