Does pulling long hours at work have you dreaming of escaping it all and finally taking a well-deserved vacation? You're not alone. However, millions of U.S. workers skip vacation days every year. Often it's simply more work to prepare for and recover from an absence than to actually take the time off.
In fact, reports show four out of 10 American workers lose vacation days each year. Many professionals who do take vacation spend months working ahead and preparing the office for being gone. While gone, these folks are still taking phone calls and checking in. Finally, when they return from a vacation, it can take several more weeks to catch back up.
That doesn't sound like a vacation at all!
When you think about all the extra work that ensues when professionals take vacations, it's no wonder so many PTO days go to waste. Yet taking time off is essential to your personal and professional health, and quite frankly, you should make use of every one of your employment benefits.
If you have time off approaching, this vacation checklist for the American worker can help ensure your absence doesn't cause stress for you or your co-workers:
1. Set departure priorities
It's important to determine priorities for what must get done before you leave. If you're leaving for a week or more, start planning a month prior to ensure you can complete all important tasks.
Make sure everyone knows you are leaving and remind them as the date approaches. Be honest about which responsibilities and projects you'll need assistance with. You may want to reach out directly to high-priority clients as well so they are prepared.
Leave an action-items list for colleagues to reference while your gone. There's nothing worse than getting a phone call on vacation because your boss can't find where you saved that important monthly report.
4. Use automation tools
Automation tools are available everywhere. You can schedule emails to go out, load social and blog posts to publish, and disseminate newsletters all for future times during your vacation.
5. Find a trustworthy backup
A backup is more than the name listed on your email out-of-office reply. It's the person who will step in and solve any issues that emerge while you're gone. Use someone who is trustworthy and organized. Identify this person via email and on your voice message.
6. Clear your calendar
It's common practice to accept meetings weeks in advance. You may have accepted requests prior to planning your vacation, so be sure to check your calendar and reschedule any existing meetings.
7. Decide who receives your number
It's wise to leave your cell or hotel information just in case of an emergency, but this private information should go to only a few people who you trust will use it sparingly.
8. Create a return agenda
Create an agenda for when you return with meetings to get up to speed and important to-do's. This will help ensure you don't miss a beat after enjoying a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation.