Time Management for Your Time Off

Checklist Helps You Prepare for Vacation

Time Management for Your Time Off

By Robert DiGiacomo, for Yahoo! HotJobs

The trick to getting ready for a vacation, according to time management expert Peggy Duncan, is to stay organized at work every day.

For example, you should always keep your files, emails and project details ordered, as if you were preparing to head to the airport at any time.

"You shouldn't have to kill yourself working the week before you go on vacation," says Duncan, a consultant and author of Put Time Management to Work and Live the Life You Want.

Even for the organizationally challenged, however, leaving work behind is doable if you follow this checklist:

Set Your Prevacation Priorities

Starting about a month before you leave, determine what items must be completed by your departure date and what can wait.

"You need to keep perspective on what's important and what needs to get done," says work-life coach Natalie Gahrmann of N-R-G Coaching Associates and author of Succeeding as a Super Busy Parent: 75 Practical Tips for Life, Love, Kids, & Career.

Give Plenty of Advance Notice

Depending on your office culture, hold a meeting or call colleagues several weeks ahead to alert them to your time off and their duties in your absence; don't rely on email.

"It's important the people on your team know their responsibilities, and are prepared for what's on their plate," Gahrmann says.

Leave a Paper -- and Email -- Trail

Help your colleagues from afar by keeping project files organized in your real and virtual inboxes.

"Your processes should be streamlined and documented, so people know what you're doing, and who to call when you're gone -- rather than you on vacation,"  Duncan says.

Know Who's Boss

Be clear about who's leading a project or supervising your staff while you're gone.

"Your team, as well as your customers, your clients and other employees, should know who's in charge, so they don't see you as the only person who can answer a question," Gahrmann says.

Decide Who Gets Your Number

Designate a point person to contact you -- and under what circumstances.

"That person should know only to contact you in emergencies, or if you have someone checking your email, they should know only to forward [certain] things," Duncan says.

Prepare for Your Return Agenda

The week before you leave, take some time to schedule future meetings or set timelines for your post-vacation goals.

"Part of planning is knowing what's on [your] plate when [you] get back," Gahrmann says.

Don't Lose the Vacation State of Mind

Set your return date on your voicemail and out-of-office email messages for a day or two after you're scheduled to come back, so you have time to reacclimate.

"Deal with all the things you can see first -- all the mail piled up and that kind of thing -- before you start to tackle email and set up meetings," Duncan advises. "You want to clear up the clutter and chaos, so you can think better."

Finally, remember your job is just that. Of course you're essential to your company's success, but everyone needs time off to recharge.

"If you're going away for a week, life doesn't stop -- the company isn't going to fail in a week," Gahrmann says.