Oh, Summer… How I love thee. The sun feels warmer and looks brighter, the leaves on all of the trees are green, the flowers are in full bloom, and the days just seem a little bit – well – exciting, don’t they?
And of course, there’s those summer vacations to think about and prepare for!
This week on Episode 129 of Productivity Paradox, we’re talking all about vacations: how we can be sure that we’re preparing for them effectively (especially with kids around), and how we can prevent ourselves from making the mistake of jam-packing our vacation schedule to the point where we never get to truly enjoy ourselves and simply RELAX.
Because the whole point of a vacation away from our routine day-to-day lives is to get away and hit the Refresh button, right?
So, while we touch a lot on preparing for a vacation away with kids in tow, I thought I might share some of the ways that I also prepare myself for a truly relaxing vacation away from the office. Because, for me, it all comes down to how organized I am from the get-go, from the very moment that I mark that vacation away from the studio on my calendar…
Let’s get started!
One of my favorite things to do, both personally and professionally, before any vacation is to create a Before You Go list. On a personal level, my list usually includes all of those small errands that I need to run to make sure that I have everything in order (everything I might need!) before the time comes for John, the kids, and me to head out for our vacation.
The same is essentially true for my Before You Go list at work – except, in addition to any “small errands” related to IWP that I might need to take care of, I also include all of the tasks that I need to get done before I take off my work hat and get into relaxation mode.
So, just as you would do with your usual priority list that you create for your work tasks on any regular day, be sure to organize those Before You Go items in the same way!
This way, you’re ensuring that all of the high priority items are taken care of before tending to anything else… Because, if push comes to shove and you’re unable to get to every single thing you’ve written down before hitting the road, then you can at least put yourself at ease, knowing that those Big Ticket tasks are out of the way!
A great way to ensure that you’re not coming back from vacation with a ton of tasks waiting for you on your desk is to be a little bit more strategic with your schedule than you may be normally.
This might mean that you’re taking a look at what you have coming around the bend during the week or two that you return from vacation and taking any necessary steps to set yourself up for success.
Is there an upcoming meeting, task, or event that you could do some minor preparation for prior to your departure? If you have room to handle it before you leave, go for it!
On the other hand, how might you best set yourself up for success during the two weeks before your vacation begins?
Be careful not to schedule any important meetings the day before you leave for vacation – or worse, the day that you get back. And make sure you give yourself plenty of time to do any focused work that needs to be taken care of (Remember: time-blocking and batching tasks are great ways to free up space for yourself to get the important things done!).
The better handle that you have on your schedule and the more prepared you are to boot, the easier it will be for you to completely unplug and enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
To some, this probably seems like a no-brainer… But you’d be surprised how often many of us actually forget about the awesome features that Gmail and other email providers offer!
One great way to set yourself up for success before vacation is to create a customized auto-reply message for your email (and your voicemail!) before you hit the road.
While your message can say whatever you want – Be sure to include your anticipated return date in your auto-reply and outgoing voicemail message so that your colleagues and clients know when they might expect to reconnect with you…
This way, you’re covering all of your bases and you’re ensuring that you won’t return to a ton of emails and voice messages wondering where you are and why you haven’t been responding!
No matter where you work or what kind of work it is that you do, chances are you have a few high-priority clients or contacts that you connect with on a routine basis.
In addition to setting up those auto-replies and outgoing voice messages, it’s also a great idea to get in touch with your high-priority clients prior to your vacation so that you can first let them know that you’ll be away (and when they can expect you to return), and to double-check to see if there is anything that they need from you before you leave.
Not only that, but great service goes a long way – no matter what industry we’re talking about! And checking in with those who rely on you is a great way to keep that positive momentum going.
In my experience, there is nothing more deflating than coming home to a messy house or a messy workspace after a long, relaxing vacation.
I mean… Who in their right mind actually looks forward to cleaning after spending some time away at the beach, or anywhere else for that matter?
So, to save yourself from the risk of feeling super overwhelmed immediately after you get back from your vacation, make sure that you do yourself a favor before you leave by cleaning up your workspace!
What are some of the things that you do to prepare for a vacation away from the office? Share any tips and tricks you have in the comments below… And tune in to Episode 129 of the podcast this week to learn even more ways that you can fully prepare yourself for the relaxing vacation that you DESERVE!