How to prepare for your holiday?
Every year, it's the same thoughts, the same worries: we're going on holiday, and we have not finished everything before leaving. Once on holiday - finally! - we have to resist the urge to read our emails, if we do, we worry about all the things we will find when we return. And when we return from holiday we find hundreds of messages. But if we read them well, most of them are already solved, and finally nobody really noticed that we were away. So this year, why not take a real break?
The first step is to prepare yourself psychologically to let go. To accept something that usually seems impossible: not to check your emails, not to listen to your messages, not to respond to any professional requests. At a time when burn out is looming, everyone needs to refocus on themselves, their family, their friends, learn to let go on one side and focus on the other. What are the activities you never have time to do when you are working? Yoga, music, cooking, relaxing, going to the beach, having a drink at 5pm, visiting caves, walking in the mountains, taking a boat. There are so many. Take the time.
All of this can be prepared, the summer period is relatively quiet on our side of the globe and so much the worse for those who can't pick up the phone, who read their emails on the beach, who ask for Wi-Fi in every restaurant, who bombard you with emails and who get bored on holiday.
To start with, prepare a list, or rather a table, with your tasks and projects, and all the necessary information. Where are you at? Can a project or task be put on hold, or do you really need to delegate part of it to someone? Who can replace you for a recurring task? When you are ready, talk to your boss first, ask for approval, and then delegate to your colleagues. Offer to take over from them at the next opportunity.
If one or more colleagues can replace you for one or more tasks, inform them in advance of the progress of the project concerned. The more they know about the ins and outs, problems you have solved, etc., the easier it will be for them to manage in your absence and when you return you will not have to catch up. Plan the necessary sessions, or why not, a less formal session over a beer after work.
Of course, there are always tasks or projects that will be on stand-by during your holidays. For these activities, the best solution is to inform the people, colleagues and partners involved in these activities. You will be absent and unreachable. If necessary, provide your colleagues and superiors with any documents or files they may need. Inform partners outside the company of your departure and your return date. Do this in writing and then call to allay their concerns if they have any. A few weeks' absence will not kill the project. If you prepare yourself and others for the idea of a break, there will be no unpleasant surprises during your absence and when you return.
Your manager should be aware of the progress of your work. If a task requires action while you are away, and cannot be done by a colleague, ask them to take it on. Make a complete record and write clear instructions. Arrange a meeting before you leave and focus on what is their responsibility. Prepare well for this session and ask yourself what is really important, really urgent. This is an excellent exercise for all of us.
Explain also to your manager that you need a real break, especially if he or she is used to calling you during the holidays. Not being disturbed during the holidays is also your right.
Emails and telephone
Instead of the usual "out of the office" email, why not put a message like this instead:
"I will be away from 15 July to 1 August. Messages sent during this period will not be saved, so please return your message on 2 August."
The same applies to your voice message on your mobile phone:
"I am currently on holiday and will not have access to my messages. Please call me back from 2 August".
Ready to go?
A week before you leave, review everything you have prepared, documents to be handed in, colleagues or partners who have not yet been informed. On the last day, write your automatic messages and set up your computer. Smile. Breathe in. And take your well-deserved break.
Have a good holiday...