Preparing for time out of the office for the holidays is frustratingly stressful. It’s supposed to be the most magical time of the year and somewhere amongst the gifts, parties, and holiday movies, we are still expected to carry our normal workload. The audacity!
All kidding aside, most people see an uptick in workload both personal and professional around this time of year and as we look at the glorious “Out of Office” blocks on our calendar – we start to get overwhelmed.
And not just because of our task list. “What if someone needs me?” “What if my technology gets glitchy?” “How do I actually step away and feel at ease?”
There are a few things you can do to ensure you can take real time off from work and know that your bases are covered.
Set Your Out-of-Office Replies
I know this seems obvious, but make sure you turn on your autoresponder. On most platforms, you can set them ahead of time, so take a moment right now to go set it up. And no need to get cutesy. Keep it simple – Out of office starting (this date) and returning (this date). If there is someone covering for you while you’re out, include the redirect contact information.
Depending on your work environment, you may want to consider a pre-Out of Office autoresponder titled “Holiday Plans” that includes your anticipated out dates. This will help people plan ahead and PRE-inforces your boundary that you won’t be reachable.
Clean Out and Back Up Your Systems
Email marketing and hacker activity see a sharp uptick during the holiday season. You’ll want to prepare your systems by doing two things.
First, if you have a capacity in your inbox, clean out unnecessary emails and unsubscribe to marketing emails so you don’t max out and miss important messages. Don’t forget to dump your trash folder!
Second, back up your systems juuust in case technology or hackers get naughty. Website, email marketing subscriber list, other important systems in your life – back them up! You’ll be so grateful if your website crashes or a system goes down and the stress is sliced in half because you have a recent backup to start from.
Pro Tip: You should be doing both of these at least once a quarter. Get my free Essential Maintenance Checklist to see what else you should be doing regularly.
Reconcile Your Task List
Add everything you still need to accomplish to your task list (with notes!) and put them in a priority order that works best for your brain (flags, labels, due dates, simply listing them in order – whatever works.) Also, make sure you don’t have any outstanding or “overdue” tasks on your list. Bring the whole list up to date so when you return, you just need to add to it and make adjustments – not get completely reorganized.
These tips are just a starting point. Consider what else would put your mind at ease stepping away. Organizing your desk, having a “Before We’re Out” prep meeting with your team, or setting a reminder to plug in all your wireless devices before you leave may also be helpful.
How do you prep to be out of the office? Let me know! I’d love to hear!