“You are going on vacation again?” exclaimed Roxanne, one of my coaching clients. I laughed as I confirmed that yes, I was off on 2 weeks’ vacation in early August, my 4th vacation for this year alone.

Over the past few weeks, I have also been coaching 2 of my clients in preparing their vacations. Typically, they go on leave and keep their phones and emails on, are called into virtual meetings, or have to cut short their time and return to work. One of them is taking 4 weeks’ summer vacation and the other an extended “long leave” of 3 months. I have been coaching them on how to prepare so that their vacations are truly vacations. From my personal experience and with coaching my clients, here are 7 things to do to ensure that you have a real vacation:

  1. Decide what type of vacation you want and where you will go. Try taking a vacation where you are unreachable i.e. no technology. In the past 15 months, I have done 2 such – climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and a week on a caye on the Belize Barrier Reef. Highlights of both were that I had no contact with the outside world. I revelled in the freedom of not knowing what was going on outside of my present moment bubble. It took a day or two to adjust and get comfortable, but once I did, I thrilled to every moment. And I discovered that nothing disastrous had happened during my absence.
  2. Set dates and advise key people early about your vacation plans. Your organization may have a policy that dictates the timeframe for notice, but my advice is to tell your clients, boss, direct reports, peers, etc. the dates that you will be off and unavailable as soon as possible.
  3. Make a list of everything you would be doing at work during the period you will be off. Go through the list and determine what can be delegated and what can wait until you return. Hopefully that should take care of everything. If not, i.e. if you still have items that you, and only you can do, test that assumption. Ask yourself why you are the only person. If still stumped, discuss with your boss and leadership peers for their input. The aim is to have everything covered.
  4. Discuss the items you will delegate with those to whom you will delegate. Do this early and start working with and preparing them in the weeks before you go. This is a great opportunity to stretch your team members and to show them that you have faith in their capabilities.
  5. Set up an emergency plan. Ask a peer to cover for you in case of emergency. That person (and your boss) should be the only ones who have your contact information. Discuss and agree what types of situations will require that you are contacted.
  6. You should also plan for your return to work. I suggest that you reserve the day or two after your return (assuming you are travelling) to unpack, rest, recover, clear emails, before you reenter into the hustle and bustle of the office. Schedule appointments before you leave. For example, before I travel, I always schedule a chiropractic appointment for the day after my return home, because I know what the flight will do to my back.
  7. Finally, resist the temptation to be indispensable. Avoid checking emails. That could mean just leaving your laptop at home, and disabling emails on your smartphone. And activate your vacation autoresponder!

Remember what the word “vacation” means: “a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday” (www.dictionary.com). With proper planning and preparation, using these 7 steps, you CAN take a real vacation – with ease, grace and joy!


Everyone Needs a Vacation – Especially You – click HERE to view article
Vacation Time – click HERE to view article

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