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Summer holidays should be a time for relaxation, rest and refreshment. However, if you’re approaching your upcoming break with a certain sense of dread, rest assured you’re not alone.

Commonly, it’s not the holiday itself that puts working people on edge – rather, the process of preparing to take extended time away from work. If, year after year, you find yourself stressed out in the run-up to your departure, then getting a double whammy of post-holiday blues when you return to a chaotic workplace, it’s time to make some serious changes.

The keys, I believe, to taking stress-free time-out are great time management and collaboration. Fretting and overloading yourself with unrealistic expectations before you go away can lead to mistakes, dropped balls, unprepared colleagues and annoyed customers. Instead, this year make sure you talk to your manager and colleagues to work out a clear, reasonable, actionable plan well in advance of your holiday.

Managers and business leaders have a responsibility to make sure their team’s operations run smoothly when one or more of the team members are out. Just as there are processes in place to ensure that customers are supported when the company is short-staffed, there should be similar support for employees.

If your manager hasn’t asked you about your holiday cover plans, raise the issue yourself ahead of time and ask them to help you work things out. Consider the problems you’ve encountered in previous years and use those as a starting point for making changes this year. What really needs to be done before you leave, or during your absence? What can be handled when you return?

Some people find that ‘buddying up’ with a co-worker before a holiday can help to ensure a smooth handover and peace of mind that nothing will fall between the cracks. Friends and colleagues are often also good sources of time management ideas and other workplace hacks that can take the sting out of your two weeks in the sun.

When you need to complete certain tasks against the clock before going on leave, the concept of timeboxing is recommended by many for enhancing productivity – here’s a link to a related article that I found really interesting.

So, in summary, you need to: make a plan; get workload support before, during and after your holiday; manage your time sensibly as you prepare to depart, then… Get on the plane, have a wonderful holiday and forget about work!

Originally posted on Linkedin – July 2019

Mark Fryer

17th July 2020