Top Tips for Prepping for Vacation and Being Out of the Office

3 min. read

By Jennifer Petsche, Marketing Communication Strategist, Creative Group

If you’re like me, you look forward to upcoming time off of work for the holidays (hello, Rudolph)! It doesn’t matter that I don’t have any major plans—I am happy as a clam to have some free time to read, sleep, catch up on TV, sleep, visit friends, sleep…you get the idea. However, once that time off is just around the corner, sometimes the anxiety sets in. I realize how much work I’m leaving behind and think about how much work will be piled up when I get back and I feel overwhelmed. Maybe I shouldn’t fully step away… maybe I should check in a few times a day, keep email notifications on… Sound familiar?

Don’t let these worries ruin your vacation or holiday. Plan ahead and take steps to reduce the stress of stepping away from work. The day before vacation can be the most productive, but don’t stress yourself out thinking you need to get everything done that day. Below are some tips for prepping for vacation that I’ve found helpful. Some may seem obvious, but it’s useful to have reminders:

Make lists! I love lists—I keep multiple lists for every aspect of life and it makes me feel way less anxious. Plus, if you’re in the meetings and events industry, you probably already do this in your sleep!

  • Expert Tip: Jot down what needs to get done before you leave. Start this list early, at least a month before your time off. If you wait until the day before, stuff will get missed.
  • Then, make a list of things to address when you first get back. Again, do this early, maybe a week or two before vacation. This will make the chaos of coming back to work feel more organized and manageable. No need to shed the Zen from vacation in the first ten minutes.

Prep your team! Make sure the people who are most likely to step in while you’re away know what you’ve been working on. Warn them of any possible fires or issues. I sometimes leave my to-do list available to coworkers or managers or forward emails to them that have information they may need.

  • Expert tip: Make sure your team has access to any files they may need. This is a shoutout to the people who love saving and storing files only on their desktops. It’s not cool if someone has to recreate a document in your absence because it’s sneaky-squirreled away on your laptop. Just ask my old coworker. Sorry, Gloria!

Look ahead at your schedule and projects. Know what’s coming up a couple of weeks after your vacation so you’re not blind-sided when you get back.

  • Expert Tip: Don’t just focus on the stuff happening before you leave. Sure, that presentation is a whole three weeks into the future, but factor in your vacation and it’s really a week away. Eek! Don’t panic, just get started on it now (or at least start to delegate).

Set up your OOO status in Outlook, etc., and snooze notifications.

  • Expert tip: Make your OOO message clear and simple. Don’t try to be cute or funny. At a previous job, I once had my internal OOO email reply say something funny about how I might be back, but who knows? A few people thought I was serious and were concerned that I was unhappy at work. Not what I meant! Lesson learned: Humor does not always translate!

Express any outstanding concerns you may have to your manager and discuss how to address them. Can someone else assist with a more critical project or help by checking in with your team or client while you’re away? How can you ensure nothing slips through the cracks, while also allowing you the break you deserve?

  • Expert tip: If, due to your role, you truly need to check in during your break, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just set limits for yourself so that you don’t end up working away your vacation.

We all need a break sometimes, so don’t feel guilty when you take one. There will always be work to come back to, and if you don’t take time to recharge, you’re going to run out of steam and not be any good to anyone, especially yourself. So, my closing thoughts to you as you log off: Relax. Exhale, Enjoy your vacay!

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