Ah, Christmas. During this happiest of seasons, it’s easy to get caught up n the flurry of gift shopping, party preparing, and general merry-making. As everyone is looking forward to taking a break during the holidays, it could spell trouble for you and your colleagues if you leave behind a mountain of work and unfinished tasks at the office. Here’s a list of things to check before you rush off on holiday.
1. Make sure you’re covered.
If you’re working with a team, a good practice would be having backups on-duty team members who know how to do at least some of your tasks. Otherwise, it’s also good practice to list FAQs, create basic procedure documents, and hold knowledge transfer meetings. List your tasks by urgency and ask a colleague or two to back you up on days you’ll be on leave. It may all sound quite tedious, but it will do worlds of good if you want to go on a worry-free holiday. That way, your colleagues know who—besides you—they should call if they need something.
2. Inform your colleagues, stakeholders, and bosses about upcoming vacation days.
Leaves can take a week or two or more to be processed, and your teammates might not recall that you’ve filed for leaves on certain days without a few gentle reminders. To avoid this blunder, make sure to inform all the people you’re working with of the days you’ll be on holiday, and who they can contact in your absence. And don’t forget to update your automatic vacation responder message and supply all information necessary regarding your leave days and backups or relievers.
3. Leave no mission unaccomplished.
When you go away for a week or more, it goes without saying that you need to leave with a clean slate. It’s basic work etiquette to finish all your tasks before leaving so as not to hassle your colleagues. If a certain task or deadline simply can’t be accomplished before your leave day(s), remember the golden rule of informing your office mates. And again, provide all crucial information so everyone is clued in in your absence.
4. Apply the concept of mise en place.
Although you’ll be work-free for a couple of days, work smart and prepare everything for when you return. The culinary concept of mise en place is all about setting up your work space (whether it’s a kitchen, a cubicle, or a cushy windowed office) all your tools and ingredients in place. Arrange your desk, clean out your e-mail inbox, and organize all necessary paperwork before leaving the office for your holiday.
5. Keep lines of communication open.
Your colleagues will understand that when you’re on leave, they may have to cover tasks on your behalf, but sometimes urgent and tricky concerns can occur, leaving your office mates no other choice than to use the dial-a-colleague lifeline. Be there when they need your help, and offer at least a few minutes for a quick call or e-mail response regarding urgent concerns. You wouldn’t want to feel helpless if your situations were reversed and you were the one left holding the ball, would you? Of course, to minimize these instances, it would be best to heed the first few items on this to-do list.
Read this list and check it twice! Preparing for the Christmas break doesn’t only mean putting the final touches on your decorations and wrapping the last of your gifts. It’s also highly important to keep your work in check before your holiday leave so as not to interfere with your Christmas cheer.
Featured image by Christine via Flickr Creative Commons.