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The end of the year can be both a joyful and stressful time. On one hand, it calls for a celebration to mark making it through another year, but that same festive rush puts also more pressure on to wrap up the working year properly before it ends.
Before you leave for a much-deserved break, here are five things to keep in mind as you plan your vacation exit strategy.
1. Give advanced notice
Make sure your team is well aware of the dates you’ll be out of the office, particularly towards the end of the year when a lot of people tend to be away. This makes sure that critical meetings are not accidentally being planning while you’re not around or that there aren’t too many key members of your team away at the same time.
[ALSO READ: How to get 10 long weekends in 2014]
2. Plan a simple but comprehensive handover
If you’re away for more than a few days, make sure your next-in-charge is aware of what needs to be done, if there are any events they have to keep an eye out for, or if they’ll need to attend to something in your absence. This could also include forwarding emails so they have context around tasks they’re helping you with.
While you should not overwhelm them with information or micro-manage, ensure they have everything they’ll need to cover you. However, don’t forget they still have their core responsibilities to look after, so think about splitting the workload if necessary.
3. Set an out of office… and an emergency contact list
While it’s important those you directly work with in the office are aware of your time off, it’s just as critical external parties you liaise with, be it customers, vendors or partners, are in the loop as well. Set an out of office message that clearly states the dates you are unavailable with details of a contact person they can get in touch with if needed.
Within your team, it might also be a good idea to appoint one person as a contact point to yourself in case of a work-related emergency. Doing so will ensure that you’re not receiving a constant flow of questions while on vacation, but still gives your team – or boss – an avenue to get in touch if necessary.
4. Pre-schedule work if you can
When Human Resources editor Rebecca Lewis and I know we are going to be away from the office for long periods of time, we pre-write articles and schedule them to go online while we’re not in the office, giving us peace of mind when we’re at an event, taking a day off or away on a trip.
Try to do the same with your work, and prepare as much as possible before you leave. It might mean putting in a couple of extra hours over the week before you’re away, but the pay off you get is knowing you have one less thing to worry about during your downtime.
5. Prepare for your return
We’re all familiar with the post-vacation slump; part of you wishes you’re still with loved ones on a sunny beach instead of back at your desk. We’re not sure if there’s a way to avoid that feeling completely, but one way to ease the pain is to prepare for your return before you leave.
Make a to-do list of things you have to check in on your first day back, don’t take any appointments unless they cannot be avoided, and clear the day so you have time to go through your emails and messages. This is particularly important if you’ve been away for a longer period of time over the year-end and have a bit of catching up to do.