My vacation this year required considerable planning, as I am currently walking the Camino in Spain. Besides preparing physically I also had to prepare to be out of the office with limited access to the internet. I went back to the strategies we use at Actualize. 

Step 1: Assign Tasks
Before you leave, take an inventory of all tasks you complete on a daily basis and keep a log of all open items. Determine which tasks you need coverage for while you are out of the office, and then assign the most appropriate team member(s) to look after them while you are away.

Step 2: Educate Your Team
Make sure your team has all the information they need while you are out of the office. If someone is covering your open items, ensure to supply them with the proper steps and contacts, and a game plan in case a conflict or new situation arises. By equipping your team with these tools, you will reduce the need for any calls, texts, or emails while you are away.

Step 3: Choose an Email Strategy
While you are gone, the firm is still buzzing, and new developments are happening every day. Although this is great news, it can be particularly overwhelming for someone returning from vacation and trying to play catch up. To minimize inbox anxiety, have the team members covering your open items compile updates and notations for the day into one email that they will send upon your return. If you’re not ready to take the big leap of total disconnection, have them send one update email a day in the morning, evening, or afternoon – you choose!

Step 4: Schedule Debrief Meetings
Plan meetings after your return to work with those who helped compile update emails for you. Having these meetings already on the calendar is one less thing to worry about when you get back and will catch you up to speed on your daily tasks, open items, and any firm-wide updates.

Step 5: Let Others Know the Game Plan
Before you leave, send out a summary email to the firm or your division to let them know your vacation strategy while you are away. Come Monday, instead of getting your out-of-office auto-response, they will know they can contact person X for help with task Y, and person A for task B. This helps set the tone for a relaxing vacation and provides essential information to those who might need your help for the duration of your time off.

Step 6: Unsubscribe from Marketing Emails
Every time we make a purchase from a store, either in person or online, we get added to a marketing list. While these lists often do have good deals and discounts, it is unlikely we need all of them bombarding us with emails on the daily. Take time to unsubscribe or reduce the frequency of which you receive these newsletters for a less cluttered inbox upon your return.

Step 7: Set up an automated Out-of-Office Email
At the very least, set up an auto-response letting those who email you know that you are on vacation and for how long. Cut and paste the game plan summary email that you sent to the firm, so people will know whom they can contact when they need your help.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Time Off!
Here’s where the fun begins: relax and spend time with your loved ones! Enjoy your time off so you can come back fully rested and recharged – and by following these steps, less anxious upon your return!

Below is the video I took last year that inspired us to implement these strategies firm-wide.