My husband and I have four young children and we have to come to accept that a bit of chaos is inevitable at home. But that doesn’t mean that we are seeking it out. With our family summer vacation around the corner, I am not keen on the pre-vacation scramble.
One of life’s greatest ironies is that in our quest to squeeze in some balance (like a vacation), we send ourselves over the edge. We endure sleepless nights to squeeze everything in beforehand and start running flat-out again when we get back. We find ourselves wondering if the vacation was even worth it.
After one-too-many chaotic pre-vacation sprints, I decided to make some changes. On that note, I’d like to share my pre-vacation checklist.
The Stress-Busting Pre-Vacation Checklist:
- Schedule the Vacation
Pull out your calendar and schedule your vacation weeks for the rest of the year. You may be thinking: “but I don’t know when a good time will be!” The truth is, there is never a perfect time. Book it and you’ll find a way to make it work.
- Before and After
Now that the vacation has been scheduled, strive to keep your calendar as clear as possible on the days leading up to and after your vacation. You’ll need this time to deal with the last minute unknowns and to tackle the onslaught when we return.
- The To Do List
Write everything down that you need to do in one central list. Then consider whether you can pare it down. Can you delegate, defer or simplify any tasks? This is not the time to strive to fit in everything that you’ve been longing to do since you started your job.
- Set Deadlines
If you have an inkling to procrastinate (like most of us do), you might agree that nothing drives productivity like a deadline. When no deadlines exist, I suggest prompting them. Just make sure to pace yourself. The last thing you want is everything due the day before you leave!
Two Weeks Pre-Vacation:
- Arrange for Someone to Cover You
Make sure you have someone set up to cover your major responsibilities while you are gone.You might be hesitant to ask your already-swamped colleagues. But think of this as their opportunity to pay-it-forward. After all, they will need someone to cover them over their upcoming vacation as well!
- Let Others Know
Start to let others know that you will be unavailable that week. Encourage them to book you now or wait until afterwards. Resist the temptation to overbook yourself.
Ok, this might seem overly keen, but you can definitely start to lay things out. You want to give yourself enough time to fill in any “holes” in the wardrobe or pharmacy department.
One Week Before:
- Set Up Your Out-of-Office Notice
You can do this one week in advance and set the dates to turn on/off automatically.
- Arrange for your paper and mail to be either stopped or managed by a neighbour.
- Say No!
Don’t accept any new meeting requests. Start to tell people that you’ll be available when you return from vacation.
Two Days Before:
- Focus on Clearing Up Loose Ends
Hopefully, you have managed to keep most of this day relatively meeting-clear. The last thing you want to be doing at this point is to take on new work. Consider planning to stay later at the office to wrap-up loose ends. Don’t overestimate how much you’ll be able to get done on the last day.
One Day Before:
- Park Your Laptop
This is the time to reward yourself for all of your advance planning. Resist any temptation to take work with you. Don’t lull yourself into believing that you’ll catch up on your work reading.
After an emotional good-bye to your computer, walk out of the office and don’t look back!
Enjoy your well-deserved vacation.