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How to manage your workload before and after a holiday

Can taking a holiday from work feel like too much work?

If you’re delaying your well earned break because you can’t face the prospect of an over-loaded email inbox when you return and all the emergencies that have festered in your absence, then this article is for you. The following to-do list will guide you through the pitfalls of holiday before and afters, and help you gain a sense of control (or let go of one!)

1 month till d-day: planning

  • Block out the holiday dates in your calendar.
  • Block out the last two hours of your final day too, so you can finish anything you forgot about (or escape work early to do that important holiday packing!)
  • Also block out the first two hours on the morning of the dreaded return. This will give you time for email catch up and to touch base with colleagues on any missed emergencies you need to be au fait with.

2 weeks till d-day: contact clients

  • Contact high priority clients and customers now, to let them know your away dates. Not only will the client feel gratified you have thought of them, it gives them enough time to anticipate their needs, and also enough time for you to action and follow through on them. This may also be appropriate for some colleagues.

1 week till d-day: handover

  • Start writing clear handover notes for each colleague who will be picking up your workload. This can include Cc’ing them on all emails that will be relevant while you are away.
  • Prioritise your workload early. It will be impossible to ensure everything is done before you leave so make sure you focus on the immediate, and leave the work that can easily be resumed when you return.

1 day till d-day

At work
  • Run through the hand overs with the colleagues taking over your workload.
  • Write an out-of-office auto-reply for your email, and voicemail recording for your phone. Double check the spelling twice!
  • Write the dates of your holiday on a sticky note and place it on your desk or screen. This is helpful for colleagues who have come to find you and saves them time searching their emails for your return date.
  • Create a checklist for yourself for your first day back at work. Hopefully your holiday has relaxed you to the point you have forgotten about work and this will serve as a great reminder of what you were covering before you left.
At home
  • Make sure you have a work outfit washed and ready to go for your first day back. You will have enough post-holiday washing without the extra worry of appropriate clothing for work.
  • Try and leave the house as clean and tidy as possible, when you return from holiday you will appreciate the blank slate.
  • If you are away for a long period try and get a friend or neighbour to leave milk, bread and perishable essentials at home for your return.
  • Try and plan a simple menu for the first few days back at home, and have the ingredients to hand. This will stop the stress of needing to do a big food shop on your return.

Now… Holiday time – relax and enjoy yourself!

Back to work tips

You are home and work looms over you. How can you get ahead of the game?

  • I can guarantee you will not feel like it but unpack as quickly as possible. Try and get your home back to normal as soon as you can. Tripping over full suitcases while you get ready in the morning and trying to find toiletries in your luggage will only make you feel unprepared for the day ahead.
  • Bring gifts and lots of appreciation to your work colleagues who have taken over your workload!
  • Use the precious two hours you have blocked out in your calendar to start the marathon task of processing emails and prioritising them.
  • This time can also be used to request debriefs from the colleagues who have been handling your work. Hopefully they can quickly fill you in on any work emergencies you need to take in hand immediately.

A final note – It’s very easy after the first day back at work to forget you have been on a relaxing holiday at all. Try and cling onto the good memories you have made for as long as possible, it is for these moments we work so hard in the first place.

Gemma Thorpe for SeventeenHundred