Taking off work can be stressful especially if you are a department of one. I am getting ready to go on vacation this week too so I am sharing 7 things you should do before you leave to make life easier on yourself (and everyone you work with). And maybe I will even follow my own advice. 

1. Make a List (or Lists)

As they say “Every great story starts with a list!”

OK, I say that. That was me. I love lists!

I keep them on my phone. I keep them on notepads. I keep them on whiteboards and computers and sticky notes.

I keep a couple of lists going when I am scheduled to be out of the office. The first is essentially this blog post – what I need to do to get ready. And, yes, “make a list” is on this list. It’s very meta.

The next list is broken down into what needs to be done normally during the week or weeks before I am gone, then what needs to be done for the week I am gone.

I further divide this into what absolutely has to be done (in my case, schedule emails and blog posts and what should be done, but could wait until I get back)

Then I also have a list of things I know I will need to do as soon as I get back.

2. Let the Right People Know

This seems like a no-brainer, but you need to not only let your boss know, but also your staff, volunteers, vendors, consultants, and anyone else you work closely with.

If you are in the middle of any projects, then those people need to know you won’t be around. Working with event vendors or any other outside contractors? Let them know who they should contact while you are gone.

Letting people know ahead of time will cut back on the amount of email and voicemails you have to wade through when you get back.

3. Communicate Your Boundaries

If you will not be checking email or answering work calls or texts while you are gone, then be upfront about that. You deserve a break so don’t feel bad at all, but you do need to relay those expectations to your boss and co-workers.

4. Set Up Your Out of Office Replies

Change both your email and voice mail messages to let people know you will not be able to respond right away. Include the dates you will be gone as well as the contact information for the co-worker(s) who will be covering for you.

And be sure to turn it off when you get back if you didn’t schedule that ahead of time. 

If you use an instant messaging app at work, be sure that is turned off or paused too.

5. Set Up Email Filters

If you get e-newsletters or other less important emails regularly, set up filters to clear those out of your inbox so you can focus on more urgent matters upon your return.

6. Clean Up Your Office

You are going to have so much stuff to do when you get back. Don’t add to the chaos by having an unorganized work space.

7. Don’t Schedule Anything Your First Two Hours Back

You can play with the timing on this, but give yourself some time when you first get back in order to catch up and get back into the swing of things.

Whether you are out of the office because of a planned vacation or something more unexpected, doing these things now will save you and your co-workers from being overwhelmed and stressed out.