Preparing to Take a Vacation


Vacations are an important way for workers to rest from their efforts and return revitalized to work harder and better. But how do you take a leave from work that doesn’t leave you feeling more stressed than before? The following checklist was shared with me by a coworker, and located in a book by Dr. Gini Graham Scott. The most important element to pre-vacation planning is to know your work load, and prepare ways for it to be managed or delayed in your absence.

  1. Starting about a month before you leave, determine what items must be completed by your departure date and what can wait. Don’t leave any loose ends.  Finish projects and assignments, clean out your email, voicemail, and workspace, and try to leave with a clean slate.  When you return, you’ll have a fresh and well-organized start.  If a project cannot be finished, be sure to document what is completed and what still needs to be done for when you come back to the office.
  2. One week ahead of time: Meet with your boss to remind her of your trip and update her on your work.
  3. Four days left to go: Sit down with co-workers who will be covering for you to explain what exactly needs be done while you are away.
  4. Three days left to go: Prior to departure, tell clients, vendors, or any one you deal with outside the office.  Let them know who to contact in your place.
  5. Two days left to go: Clean your work space !
  6. On your last day: Change your voice mail and put an instant reply on your e-mail saying you will be out.
  7. BEFORE WALKING OUT THE DOOR: Leave yourself a memo prioritizing what you need to deal with when you get back.
  8. Set aside your first day back for getting organized – no meetings, no client appointments, no new projects. Go through your mail, voice messages, and e-mail. Make note of any issues that require your attention, and then organize your list in order of priority. Now you can make the most efficient use of your work time and clear up the most pressing items first – starting at the top of the list and working your way down.

Don’t feel guilty. No matter what the modern work ethos is, everyone deserves a vacation now and again. Even you.


Scott, Gini Graham, Ph. D. (2004). A Survival Guide for Working with Humans: Dealing with Whiners, Back-Stabbers, Know-it-alls, and Other Difficult People. New York, NY : AMACOM Books.

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About shortlibrarian

I am a woman working in the Twin Cities as a programming Librarian.
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