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December 22, 2011

Tips in Case You Plan to Actually Take Your Vacation (and You Should!)

Filed under: Management Practices — Tags: , 6:00 am

By the time you read this, I’ll be on vacation on a tropical island.  Translation for the realists: I’ll be at home with my three daughters, out of school for the year.  As much as I love spending time with my favorite people, I have to admit the idea of a tropical vacation where I could sit and watch the waves sounds very appealing.  Still, as I am writing this blog, I can only think of the work I am leaving behind.  Do you dread the same things I do when you go on vacation?  It’s not that we don’t like to get away; it’s the thought of all the unanswered voicemails, email, and even plain old-fashioned mail that will be waiting for us when we get back that causes stress.

The best thing you (or I) can do, though, is to leave all this stress behind here at work.  So, confess, how often do you check your email while you are on vacation?  Are you getting calls from your boss (or someone else) about the latest crisis?

It is important for management to encourage employees to take vacation – and more importantly, to actually TAKE vacation.  In other words, take the time off work and don’t “work” while you are on vacation.  Some may argue that their job is just too demanding to take time off.  I argue that while there may be certain times of year employees should not be gone – around here, we refrain from vacation time if possible during the fall, when we have a major software update distribution – the company is most likely not going to shut down because you planned a trip to Mexico.

Take your time off, even if you don’t go anywhere “special.”  Reconnect with your spouse and children, or with yourself.  Here are some suggestions to make coming back to work easier:

  • Allow yourself some time to wrap up loose ends, such as projects you needed to finish.  For most of us, impromptu vacations don’t happen often: most of us schedule time to be off work well ahead.  Prepare yourself to be gone so that when you come back, you’re ready to take on new projects, not busy catching up from your vacation.
  • Remind your manager of your upcoming vacation and take a few minutes to check in with her to be sure there is not anything unexpected that needs to be completed before you leave.
  • Change your voicemail to let callers know you are away and when you will return.  This is especially helpful in any type of customer service position, whether you are an HR Manager (internal customers) or dealing with external customers.  This will cut down on their frustration and may even cut down on the number of return calls you need to make when you get back.
  • If you don’t have a designated “back-up” to perform your responsibilities, work out an arrangement with a co-worker.  You can return the favor when his vacation time comes around.
  • As hard as it may be for some of us, clean off your desk before you go.  If nothing else, it provides a clean area for all that mail that’s going to pile up.  Hopefully, though, it will provide you with at least a slightly more serene feeling when you return.

My goals for this vacation are perhaps less realistic than I will admit: (1) Keep my daughters from driving each other (and my hubby and me) crazy; and (2) finish my new Stephen King novel – do you realize it’s 850 pages?!

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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