I’ve recently returned from a 5 day vacation out of office. Many of us are familiar with that stinging and painful sensation when you’re mobile phone rings with your boss calling right in the middle of an afternoon nap on the beach.
The primary purpose of taking vacations is to have fun and unwind. Reducing the built up stress is crucial for a healthy professional life. Many times business and office needs require our attention, even on vacation. It has been shown that mixing business and pleasure while on vacation greatly decreases the vacation’s effectiveness in reducing stress. How do we make the most of such a vacation then?
As many things in life having a great out of office vacation is about planning and setting the ground. Here are my suggestions and tips on how to make the most of such a vacation:
#1 Time your vacations to your office lows
It is much easier to enjoy a vacation when everyone else is also out of office. True, most of the times tourist destinations will be packed full with screaming kids but it is always possible to find a more remote site and truly enjoy the peace and quiet with little or no office disturbances.
While some people naturally object to being told when to take their time off it has been shown stress levels decrease greatly when you’re not thinking of what’s going on in the office when you’re not there.
#2 Prepare by closing open ends and tasks due
If you’ve left unfinished and urgent business behind you should naturally expect a phone call. If you’ve planned a vacation be sure to prepare properly and close loose ends.
#3 Prepare by organizing work related material which your colleagues might need when you’re gone
Ever tried guiding someone to one of your many, overlapping subfolders to locate a certain file over the phone? If you have you know it’s very frustrating. Set up a small folder with relevant information and files and make its existence public knowledge. Assure you’re colleagues everything they need is in there.
#4 If you want to reduce disturbance to a minimum let people know you don’t want to be disturbed
You’ll be amazed how some people don’t mind working while on vacation. I myself find that weird. However, if someone doesn’t mind working, especially your boss, why should he mind calling you on vacation? Let your colleagues know you’d like some quiet time off.
#5 If you have to work on vacation set a fixed and firm schedule and abide by it
Have an hour a day to go over mail and make some calls. Use only that hour and get things done in that hour. This way you’ll be relaxed the remaining 23 hours of your day and be much more efficient on that exact hour. If you’ve set up that time let people know they may disturb you at that time only.
#6 Leave you cell phone behind or silence it
This is a no-brainer but it seems many people find it hard to part with their phone. If you answer your cell while on vacation don’t expect people to stop calling.
#7 Leave an out of office reply and update your voice mail
This is crucial. If you simply don’t answer you’ll be considered plain rude. You can’t blame people for disturbing you if they don’t know you’re on vacation.
#8 Assign your immediate assignments and clients to your colleagues
It is vital you’re clients and colleagues will have a contact when you’re gone. This will greatly decrease your levels of stress and anxiety of whether the office is getting by with out you.
#9 Delegate authorities
This is one of my favourites. You’re not as important as you think. Many decisions can be maid by your subordinates and co-workers. When leaving for vacations have some issues decided upon with out you. This is a tip for life as well.