As most offices wind down for Christmas, I thought it would be a great opportunity to put together a checklist of what to do before you go on annual leave, to make sure you can completely leave work behind and enjoy the festive season!
- Block out your calendar so that it shows that you are out of the office as soon as you have leave approved. Reschedule or delegate meetings. Don’t leave these sitting in your calendar, make sure people are aware that you won’t be attending so they can arrange alternatives with as much notice as possible.
- Make sure key stakeholders within the business are aware that you are going to be on leave. Advise your team, other admin staff and people you may potentially need assistance from that you will be on leave.
- List your regular responsibilities, and create actions for your diary for before you leave or when you return to complete them. If they have to be done to specific timeframes, delegate them appropriately, making sure this is done at least a few days before you go on leave. (You can read more about creating actions in your diary and ensuring you don’t give away fire fighting tasks in my Time Management and Learning to Prioritise posts.)
- Make sure any important documents or files are easily accessible should they be required. I recommend leaving a Procedure Reference with a Staff Member, but this isn’t possible, due to confidentiality, for some roles.
- Postpone any non urgent meetings in your calendar to a few days after your return to the office, and block out your diary at least for the first morning you are back, to catch up on your emails and go through items that will have been left on your desk when you’ve been gone.
- Send an email reminder the day before going on leave, reminding staff that you are out of the office, and the alternative contact
- By 12pm on your last day before going on leave, set up the out of office reply on your email so if you aren’t able to get to your emails that come in late in the day, people have still received your out of office. This also ensures that staff on all time zones are notified.
- Before departing, set up your out of office voicemail with alternative contact details. Also put a reminder in your calendar to turn this off on your return to the office, if your phone doesn’t set an end date for you.
- Clean and tidy your desk, making sure confidential information is locked away, as always!
And what about at home?
If you are travelling away during your break – lucky you! Here are a few hints that really saved us on our recent holiday getaway.
- Clean out the fridge and kitchen bin to avoid coming home to nasty smells.
- Make sure you do have some ingredients for your first meal when you get back, so all you should need from the supermarket is meat, milk and bread.
- Ask neighbours, friends or family to water any plants, especially over the hot summer months / pick up your mail / keep an eye on the house. Leave them a small gift (I think homemade is the nicest) and sincere note thanking them for their help that they can find when they arrive to your home when you are away!
- Leave holiday numbers, accommodation details, copies of passports and your itinerary with someone, in case of an emergency.
- Apps like Gulliver and iTrip help you email all documentation to do with your trip to your email and other contacts, as well as make sure you have every document required to hand.
When most people are complaining that they can’t take annual leave, it’s important to be savvy about the measures we take when we do, and most of all, it’s so important to maintain that work / life balance. Taking leave needs to happen regularly, with a two-week trip away (preferably four weeks!) planned at least once a year.
Have I forgotten anything? What are your fail-safe tips to taking annual leave?