5 effective ways to prepare for annual leave

By Robert Half on 29th June 2015

Holidays are crucial for maintaining a healthy, productive outlook at work so it’s important to make the most of these valuable days. Taking your annual leave and spending a couple of days with your family or at a beach house with a good book is a time to switch off and re-energise; and not a time to continue to stress about the projects and deadlines at work.

Annual leave can create short-term pressures on teams and cause workload issues, particularly in the summer when everyone looks to take advantage of the warmer weather. If you're planning to take annual leave in the next few months, this is what you need to do before you head away on holiday and to improve your work-life balance:

1. Identify who can cover

If you have projects to complete, speak to your manager or colleagues about who could stand in for you in your absence. Try to identify a suitable person for the role and ensure they have the capacity to look after your workload while you are away. Whoever steps into your shoes need to be properly briefed with clear instructions.

2. Tie up loose ends

If you are passing on half-complete projects, tasks and workloads, this will make life more difficult for your team. Where possible, look to complete individual jobs; this can minimise confusion for all concerned. In the days before you go away time management is key, try to maintain an open diary, as this will give you the chance to clear out your inbox and get on an even keel.

3. Decide which tasks can be left

Not every project you are working on will need the same level of attention while you are away. As such, it might be possible to suspend some elements of your job alone for a week or so until you come back in. There is no point overburdening yourself and your fellow team members with non-essential tasks; this will only see them spend less time on core duties.

4. Outline potential issues

If you are expecting a certain scenario to arise it’s important to warn your team in advance. The last thing they want is any surprises, as this will only make their job more difficult. Try and predict what might happen while you are on annual leave, so anyone who is helping cover your leave knows how to deal with any possible situation.

5. Communicate

If your annual leave is going to impact on any other teams, individuals or functions, people need to know. Ensure you circulate notice of your annual leave to all relevant parties, and hand over notes where necessary. Don’t forget to set an 'Out of Office' response up in your email account, informing people when you are returning to work, and who they can reach if their enquiry is urgent.

The reason you are taking annual leave is to have a break and recharge your batteries. Providing you prepare in the right way for a holiday, it should be easy to minimise the short-term disruption and ensure everything keeps ticking over so when you come back from annual leave it’s not hard to pick up where you left of.

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