Everyone who works in an office environment has those times in the run up to their annual leave when they’re rushing around, trying to get things done, and worrying about what’s going to happen when they’re away and thus what mess they’re going to come back to.
But there are ways to handle your workload whilst you’re away, and it doesn’t have to add too much to your pre-holiday workload
- Plan ahead
You can’t do any of the next four hints if you haven’t started thinking about your holiday at least a couple of weeks before hand, and given that you’ve probably planned your holiday in advance this shouldn’t be a problem.
Put time aside in the run up to your leave to think about what’s needed so that you can enjoy your time away from the business.
2. Move as much as you can so that it’s not due whilst you’re away
Look at your calendar and your to do list and see what’s currently scheduled for the time you’re away.
If there’s a meeting, move it.
If there’s a deadline, do the work before you go away.
If there’s a scheduled activity, see if it can be adjusted.
3. If you’re leaving a task to someone else whilst you’re away do everything you can before you go
There might be some tasks that must happen during the time you’re away, such as a report being run or a regular update meeting that needs input, in which case you’ll need to delegate it to someone else.
If you’re delegating, and you want to be able to delegate to this person again in the future, it’s in your best interest to make the process of covering for you as painless as possible, which means, keeping the workload down to a minimum.
If they’re standing in for you at a meeting, list the important points, provide them with access to background reading, whatever they’ll need to represent you in that meeting. Make them feel secure with knowledge.
If you’re supposed to run the meeting, get the rooms booked, get the invites out, write the agenda for them. Handle all the logistics so they just have to turn up and run it.
Whatever you can get done, then do it, and only leave the minimum for your cover to do.
4. If you can’t do everything for them then leave clear, step-by-step instructions
Sometimes there will be things that you can’t possible do in advance, and you’ll have specific ways you need certain tasks to be done whilst you’re away, so leave step-by-steo instructions for people to follow.
Not only does it mean the job will get done the way you want it to be done, but it reduces the stress on the person covering for you as they just need to do what you’ve said, rather than figure out what to do.
5. Leave instructions on what to do in an emergency
If all else fails you might need to be contacted in an emergency, but you don’t want people contacting you all the time, and you don’t want to be checking emails to see if everything is OK.
If you’ve followed all the previous four hints you’ll know that if someone needs you then the chances are that it might be important, so leave clear instructions of what to do in order to get your attention when you’re on holiday.
Get them to send you an email and follow this up with a text message, because most of us will have our mobile with us on holiday but won’t want to answer a call from the office.
An SMS saying ‘Check your email. There’s something that you need to see’ allows you the freedom to check it as soon as you can, without being overly intrusive.
6. The bonus hint
Enjoy your holiday! Studies have shown that people returning from holiday are less stressed, more likely to be in a good mood and have higher levels of energy than before they went (seems obvious doesn’t it?). You’ll be way more productive when you return than trying to be productive when you’re by the pool.