As I just returned from a vacation and got myself caught up, I thought I’d share a few observations that I made about preparing to take time off.
I think this is the most important way to avoid vacation related issues. Train your customers, prospects, and co-workers early that you’re going to be gone. I did this months in advance and warned them of my blackout window for vacation. By reiterating this over and over, expectations were set early and we were able to work well around my time away.
Designate all of your backup staff for coverage. Bring your backup staff into projects, meetings, and email chains as you approach vacation so they are aware of what could be coming their way.
Did you set all of your notifiers/auto-responders. Here’s what I would recommend checking into:
- The All-Important Email autoresponder. A good auto responder shares a few pieces of information:
- The window you will be unavailable
- The chances you will respond to emails (never, once a day, only for emergencies, etc.)
- Who the backup person is that should be contacted
- Chatter Status – Did you set your Chatter status so that your co-workers are all aware that you’re out?
- Other incoming automated emails – I had case assignment notifications and web to lead notifications coming to my inbox. I made sure that these important emails were being forwarded to the appropriate people.
- Voicemail – Set your voicemails as appropriate with the same details as your email autoresponder.
The week before you leave
Start this early. Make sure things are tied up make a list of all open items. Communicate with involved parties on Monday that if the matter is not resolved by the end of the week, you’ll be on vacation the week following. Meet a few times with your backup staff to assure they are aware of any open items or situations that may arise during your absence. Verify that your backup staff has access to any systems they may need while away.
The day before you leave
Have a final status check in the morning and assure things are wrapped up, and prep your backup on any details that you think they may have to deal with during your absence. Set all of your auto-responders AND TEST THEM to assure your changes are working properly.
Time to go
If you planned properly, it should prove to give you an enjoyable, worry-free vacation. Of course, nothing is perfect but by doing your best to plan, hopefully work will be the last thing on your mind so you can enjoy yourself and you can return refreshed and ready to dig back in.
Once you get back…
Make the assumption that you’re going to need a digging out day. Digging out day lets you reacclimate to work easily. Don’t book it solid with meetings, keep the workload light and get things back up to speed slowly. Try to catch up with your boss and your backup staff to get a quick update on what happened during your absence. If you are able to plan a digging out day, you’ll thank yourself, as it greatly reduces stress associated with your return.
I hope this was helpful, if you have any tips for vacation planning or returning from a vacation, we’d love to hear them!