Monday, December 15, 2008

Go on vacation without worrying about work, 6 tips

Vacations are meant to be a time to unwind, leave everything behind and recharge your worn-out batteries. But when it comes to the office, the thought of leaving it all behind has become something much easier said than done these days.

As wireless technology and mobile devices continue to advance, it’s getting easier and easier to remain connected with the office when you’re gone. Those connections can be wonderful when you’re away on business or working from home for a few days, but they have no place in your vacation.

One in four workers will be keeping in touch with the office while on vacation this year, according to CareerBuilder’s 2007 vacation survey. Close to one in ten (9%) said that their bosses expect them to be getting work done or at least checking messages while away on vacation.

So, if a vacation is meant to be a time to unwind and disconnect, can you truly call it a vacation if you’re still logging work hours on your laptop?

When it’s time to go, leave work at work and out of your suitcase. Follow these six tips to stop worrying about work while you’re on vacation:

  1. Have a plan. Let everyone on your team know the dates you’ll be away from the office in advance. If there’s something that needs to be worked on while you’re away, plan to have it finished before you leave or have someone else take over. Give at least one person on your team a copy of important information (e.g. contact names, phone numbers) they may need in your absence.

  2. Inform clients. Instead of returning to a voice mail box full of disgruntled messages from clients, let everyone know that you’ll be on vacation ahead of time. Provide your clients with the contact information of someone else at the office they can talk to in case there’s a problem.

  3. Clean up. Before leaving the office for vacation, take a few minutes to clean up your work area. Clearing your desk will help you make sure you didn’t miss anything important and your coworkers will be less likely to dump anything on a tidy desk while you’re gone. Remember that a messy desk will only add to any stress you feel when returning to the office.

  4. Keep an open calendar. You may feel like you have to jump back into it right away, but resist the urge to schedule anything for the day you come back to the office. If necessary, block out time on your calendar for a long meeting with yourself, so no one can sneak anything in while you’re gone.

  5. Leave the laptop. No matter how much you tell yourself you won’t use it, leave your laptop behind when packing for vacation. The temptation to check your email will be too strong if you know your laptop is tucked inside your bag. Your family and friends will appreciate it, too.

  6. Lead by example. If you’re the boss, do your best to limit contact while you’re gone. Employees will feel more comfortable taking time off and enjoying themselves when their vacation time rolls around.

As difficult as it may sound, use your vacation time to have a vacation and leave work where it’s meant to be - at work. The more you enjoy your vacation, the more relaxed and recharged you’ll be when it’s time to get back to work. Along with your family, friends and coworkers, you’ll thank yourself for it later.

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