Tag Archives: Vacation

It’s Summer – Are You Present?

Now that summer has officially started have you partially checked out of work?  It’s not uncommon for people to get distracted by the thoughts of time off, fun weekend activities, family events, etc. during the summer months.  However, as part of a team you need to be fully engaged to get things done.  When others are gone you might be covering their tasks in addition to your normal duties so you need to be on top of your game.

How do you get on top of your game when the days are longer and there is more to do outside of work?  Here are a few tips to help you stay focused at work, get done quicker and enjoy your time out of the office.

  1. Plan your work.  It’s always a good idea to have a plan for what needs to be done and when, but when you are covering for others it becomes critical.
  2. Work your plan.  Now that you have a plan, follow it.  Make sure you look at your to-do list each morning and at the end of the day to ensure you are on track.
  3. Block time.  Create blocks of time, could be 30 minutes or 4 hours, to get the important things done on time.  Schedule this time in your calendar so you know you need to focus and get stuff done.
  4. Stay flexible.  Allow time for the unexpected and the new items that are sure to come your way.  When you are covering for someone else there are sure to be surprises that need attention, so make room in your plan to handle those items.
  5. Know your limits.  Be aware of how much is on your plate already so when you are asked to take on more work temporarily you know how much time you have to give.  If you must cover and it will impact your own deadlines keep people in the loop.
  6. Get clarity.  When asked to take over for someone, be sure you know in detail what MUST be done while they are gone and what would be nice to have done.  Plan to handle the musts and if possible knock out some of the nice to haves.
  7. Be clear.  As you ask others to cover for you, be clear on what needs to be done and by when.  Focus on getting only the critical items dealt with in your absence.  If possible get things done ahead of time, so there is very little for people to handle while you are gone.
  8. Take lunch breaks.  When you are swamped it’s easy to skip lunch to get more done before quitting time.  This just leads to additional stress on your body and mind.  Take the break!  Even 30 minutes away from the computer, phone and your desk will help you recharge for the afternoon push.
  9. Have fun.  Remember getting away from work is a great time to relax, unwind and recharge your energy.  Make time to enjoy the important people in your life.
  10. Show appreciation.  Let the people who are covering for you know you appreciate it.  We all like to know our efforts are noticed and appreciated.

If you show up and are engaged each day at work you will get more done and it will be easier to take time away to enjoy all the fun things summer has to offer.  Avoid mentally leaving the office before you are physically gone.  Be there for your team and they will be there for you.

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Preparing To Take Time Off

Your long awaited vacation is finally approaching and you are counting the hours until you escape the office.  How do you prepare to take time off?  Do you just cut and run or do you get things wrapped up or at least organized so someone else can pick up where you left off?

If you are part of a team odds are someone is covering for you while you get away and you’ve had to cover for them on their days off.  One of the worst things that can happen within a team is the stress of covering someone else’s work and being handed a mess.  Admittedly there can be times when it is unavoidable, like an illness or accident.  However, if the time off is planned then there is time to prepare for what needs to be covered.  Worst case scenario is that an opportunity is missed because there wasn’t time to finish the work that was left behind.  Lost business hurts everyone and will come back to haunt you at review time if not sooner.

I’ve found that when things are organized and clear things get done and the things that aren’t clear get left unless they are truly time sensitive.  The things that are hard to pick-up leave a nasty taste behind – resentment.  So how can you avoid the resentment if you are leaving work for someone else?  Take these three steps and it will go smoother.

  1. Finish what can be done.  This is so obvious, but often overlooked.  If you can wrap up a report, or a routine task before you leave then do it.  People will love you for it.
  2. Outline what needs to be done.  Making a one page summary of what needs to be covered and where the information can be found will help whoever is covering for you get started.  Leaving the outline on top of the files where they can be seen is even better.  Review it with the person covering for you, quickly shortly before you leave. 
  3. Let people know you will be out.  Change your voicemail to say you will be gone.  Put an auto response on email saying you will be gone.  This lets folks know you will not be available for information or help.  Also, you can let them know who to contact if they need immediate assistance.  Just make sure the designated person is aware of your message. 

If you take these simple steps then your work load will be less when you get back, which helps the benefits of vacation last a bit longer.  As well, your fellow team members will be much happier to help out in a pinch.  One other benefit is that if you set a good example then you can ask for the same consideration if you are the one left in the office holding the bag.  Overall it helps build team rapport which will lead to better results throughout the year.

What do you do to prepare for taking time off?

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