At Scott Bradbury we’ve got a mixture of a long weekend, a week-long staycation, a fortnight in Europe and an extended three-week break in the US to contend with over the next month. How we manage and prepare for all these vacations is vital to ensure we continue with business-as-usual. It also means we’re not all putting in long hours the week before annual leave to get everything completed. There’s nothing worse than starting that all important break feeling exhausted and burnt out.
Over the last month the team have actively thought about each of our commitments to new tasks and projects. Reviewing the timescales and determining who is best placed to take on the action bearing in mind their holiday commitments. We’ve looked ahead and planned.
Alongside the daily to-do list, I had an out-of-office checklist. Keeping one eye on impending deadlines and another on the future tasks, I ensured there was no last-minute rush in the last few days. With regular team progress meetings, we were able to hand over tasks that were not going to be completed prior to going away. As we handed over work, we were clear about the expectations. The details of the task, sharing risks and concerns, alongside the contact details of people that would be able to help during the absence period. We all agreed to provide decision making authority, so that we wouldn’t be contacted mid-holiday to ask whether it’s ok to…
Providing the parameters of what decisions can be made or an alternative decision maker ensures there are no inconveniences – either to ourselves or others. And of course, it empowers others and gives opportunities for advancement and responsibility. However, should the buck stop with you, and you need to be the decision maker, plan how you want to be contacted, and in what instances you want to be contacted. Is it really that urgent? Can someone else not act-up and make the decision on your behalf?
Outlook’s out-of-office notification is one I am sure we are all familiar with, but in some cases is it not a bit too late for our customers/colleagues to be receiving the “I’m not in the office this week”? Our aim should be to not inconvenience the sender. Preparing and advising our contacts in the preceding weeks might seem a bit like bragging about an upcoming vacation, but actually the practicalities of already communicating your absence is helpful for everybody.
I once worked with a colleague who was methodical about clearing her desk prior to a period of annual leave. There was no clutter left. And whilst she was at it, she had prepared her first week back to-do list. So that when she stepped back into the office, she already had an awareness of what her main priorities should be. She booked in return-to-work meetings with her boss and her colleagues, that acted as both a catch-up, review, and next actions required. I’d also advocate blocking time in your diary to review emails, so that you won’t be over committed on your return and find yourself in back-to-back catchups without the chance to review the content of your Inbox.
Remember, you don’t need full detailed disclosure on everything that has happened whilst you have been away. Challenge your team to provide you with the highlights – is it enough to know that the task is complete? You can determine whether you need to complete any follow-up. Whilst there is that FOMO state, reflect on what your priorities are and what it is that you really need to know to move you forward.
If you plan your transition back into the office well then you’ll step back in with confidence and preparedness. Arriving with a positive attitude, that ready-to-get-going mindset. But don’t over commit yourself, ensure you have time to reflect and time to focus on tasks that need doing. If you take time to resettle you are less likely to burn yourself out on day one, and it also keeps the focus on the really important stuff that needs doing.
We all know that time off promotes better mental and physical health in the workplace. That the period of annual leave improves work-life balance. Let’s face it it’s also statutory law. So, step into your annual leave already prepared, for the before, the during and the after.
Happy Holidays all.