Editor's Blog

7 Tips on Surviving Returning From Vacation

August 22, 2010

How much do you dread going on vacation just because you know what you’ll have to face when you return to work?  

I know…I’ve always loved and hated going on vacation.  

I’ve had to bend over backwards to clear up the backlog of work just so I could go on vacation, there were calls I had to field about work while I was away, I was worried about what was going on while I was gone so I always ended up checking in, and finally, there was the pile of stuff waiting for me to do when I got back.  

It got to the point where I started to dread going on vacation vs. relishing them as a chance to unplug and recharge.  

The occasional disaster and the routine foul-ups drained any feeling of joy I had from having gone on vacation.  

That is until I learned how to fix my company and fix my thinking. I was the problem and I finally decided it was going to change.  

Here’s how my brothers and I learned to not only take charge of our company but get our lives back one vacation day at a time:
    1. We created a detailed Organizational “Org.” Chart that made it clear as to who reported to whom. It laid out all the boxes it took to run our company.  

    2. We then took the Org. Chart and created a Depth Chart, which is equivalent to a football team’s 1st string, 2nd string, etc. It’s how they replace the Center if he gets hurt with the next guy who can snap the ball and throw a block. It shows us where we were weak and strong at any one position.  

    3. We created Bulleted Job Descriptions that explained what went on in each box in the Org. Chart, so anyone filling that box knew what was expected of them in a short-hand way.  

    4. Later on, we realized the big shortcomings of Bulleted Job Descriptions so we ramped it up with a detailed Operations Manual for each box on the Org. Chart. This had much greater detail about how we do our work and how they would be judged as to doing well or doing poorly based on objective things.    

    5. With the detailed Operations Manuals in place, we set up dedicated non-stop Cross-train for each position which were based on the needs we discovered from the Depth Chart.  

    6. We created appointments that were recurring on the Master Outlook Calendar to remind us to get vacation schedules from all the staff early and block time for them to take only in off season and in rotation.  

    7. Finally, I learned to lie about when I was coming back to work by one day. I learned this trick because when I told the office I’d be back on a certain day everyone they spoke to was promised I’d call them that day which was nearly impossible. When I came back a “day early” based on my fib, I was able to get back to people over a two-day period. NO ONE was upset that I called a day early. In fact, they were flattered.

Here’s one more tip. Try to arrange your vacations so you get back midweek. That allows you a couple of days at work during the week to catch up and the whole weekend to get ahead of things.  

Do some or all of it and learn to love your time away…you deserve it!  


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