Leadership

(Not) working on vacation

I’m on vacation. I’m working on vacation. My choice. My indulgence.

Do you know how I do it to be manageable and even – gasp! – sometimes even kind of nice? I carry over strategies from my corporate days when I led teams and ran multiple company divisions. Here are my tips:

Enjoy the anticipation. Share the excitement of your upcoming vacation, what you’re looking forward to. Tell people where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, how you’ll be recharging. Staycation? Same thing! “So I’m not going anywhere fancy, but I can’t wait to just take long walks around my neighborhood and let my mind wander, or catch up on much-needed sleep and spend time with my kids.”

Communicate your plan for support at least 2 weeks in advance. Letting people know ahead of time what you expect and need will allow others to do adequate planning on their part to accommodate your absence.

Instead of deciding you absolutely must be working on vacation, some things may just have to wait.

Decide in advance what you will NOT tackle while you’re away. Sometimes, it’s not worth burdening another person or team for some work you typically do if those responsibilities will actually dampen momentum on critical initiatives that others have. Consider, “Will this thing be an absolutely crisis if I move it to the backburner for two weeks? Do I risk delivering this poorly or not at all when the expectation is there, vs just setting the expectation that it won’t be delivered at all for two weeks?”

Give others authority where needed. It needs to get done by someone else, but they dont do it exactly the way you do? Let it go. If it gets done, mission accomplished… and with a heavy dose of gratitude.

Start copying others or forwarding relevant items to colleagues 1 week in advance. If an issue is going to take more than 1 week to fulfill to completion, guess what: you’re not going to be the one fulfilling it. You certainly don’t want to be working on vacation on something that you intended to complete before vacation! Go ahead and give others the opportunity to begin thinking about it early, so that it’s not a confusing and sudden shift for them on Day One of your absence. They’ll be able to ask questions of you if necessary while you’re still here.

Pro tip: be realistic about everything you think you can get done in the last week before you take off. Otherwise, you significantly burden others with half-done things, and that’s just a rotten thing to do. Make sure you use your calendar for productivity and not just activity in this last week.

Set expectations about when and how you will be working on vacation. If you will check in on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 12 midnight work-local time, great. Or if not at all, unless the client is threatening to cancel the account, fine. If you’ll be casually checking in daily but only through your admin, perfect. But tell people, and follow through.


If you want a one page PIP Sheet (Put Into Practice Sheet) on implementing this planning for your next vacation, sign up for the Aurelian Coaching email list!