Anyone in business for themselves understands the chaos that often ensues when we return from work after a vacation, trip, holiday break, or break of any kind. There’s generally a rather enormous number of emails to reply to, social media catch up to be done, quotes to prepare, and tons of actual revenue generating tasks to resume in the midst of it all.
This is the time of year when many business owners scale back, and head out to visit the kids or visit Grandma and Grandpa, so there’s also the issue of that harried week before, when you’re trying to get everything finished before you hit the road. During the holidays, there’s the added challenge of shopping, and wrapping, and baking, and visiting, and fa la la laing. How are we supposed to manage everything?
With many of us preparing to take a holiday break and enjoy spending time with our families, I thought we should put together some tips to help us prevent being buried under a landslide of work when we’ve return from our break. And as counter-intuitive as it sounds to add more work to your plate right now … it could save you a lot of pain on the other end of your break.
- Let your VIPs know when you’ll be away. It’s good to give your high need clients plenty of notice before you take a holiday so you can set your mind (and theirs) at ease while you’re enjoying your time off. This gives everyone an opportunity to make sure they have enough time to get those last minute projects done, and for you to schedule things so your vacation isn’t interrupted, and your clients are still looked after.
- Empty your inbox and clean your desk. When you go back to work after a break, the last thing you want to deal with is clutter. If you take some time to empty out your email inbox and organize your desk, you’ll find yourself in a much calmer state of mind when you return to work.
- To-do your heart out. Make several detailed lists (ToDoist works best for me!) to keep yourself on track leading up to your vacation, and to help you stay focused and get back on track when you return. Sometimes when we leave for an extended period, our return to work can be quite jarring, and we spend the first couple of days back just trying to focus our attention on what we should be doing. Make your return-to-work to do list before you leave so you can get right back into the swing of things.
- Anticipate client needs. Take a look at your calendar at the days following your return to the office, and see if there’s anything that might prompt your clients to contact you while you’re away. For instance, if you have a client with a book launch coming up, a seminar, or some sort of deadline, touch base with them regarding their priority needs BEFORE you leave. This will set everyone at ease, and avoid having your vacation interrupted with a fire to put out.
- Post “away” messages everywhere. Leave your vacation dates in your voicemail, put an update on slack, set an email autoresponder … let your clients know when you’ll be gone, and when you’ll return. Resist the urge to tell them how to reach you in the event of an emergency. Set up a contingency plan so they’ll be taken care of while you’re gone! Which brings me to our next tip…
- Delegate. Find someone to take care of things while you’re away. Perhaps an online business manager or virtual marketing team? Wink wink nudge nudge.
Taking the time now to plan for your return back to work after your holiday break should make your reentry into the real world, where there’s far less eggnog and far more work, a bit gentler.
Do you have any more tips to add to this list?
Also published on Medium.