April 21, 2008

Getting ready for a holiday

Do you remember what it’s like getting back from holiday?


You’re all relaxed, birds are chirping, the sun is shining, there’s no tension in your shoulders and everything’s wonderful.

Then you get to work.

After you look at your desk, and then see the 2000-odd emails that have piled up, you’re about ready to take your bag, car keys and go right back home!

I have a few ideas to help you prepare and get organised for your holiday:

1. Advise your clients and friends that you’ll be away.
I suggest that you write separate emails because…well…the tone and content will be different for each of them.

For clients, you’ll be explaining how long you’ll be away, what to do for queries and who your stand-in is. For friends, I like to tell them to please not send me any personal emails. After all, you don’t want to return to an Inbox full of PowerPoint presentations and the friends who really want to talk to you have your cell phone number if they want to chat. Right?

If you’re on Facebook, update your status too.

2. Delegate as much as possible
You need to be motivated to delegate! Now just think how lovely it will be when you get back from your holiday and after scanning through your emails, you only have to attend to about 10% of the emails.

You can delegate to a virtual assistant or my favourite, an auto-responder. I have an auto-responder set up to manage my mailing list so that it delivers my book automatically to any subscribers and removes people who want to unsubscribe. Just putting this one thing into practice saves me over an hour a week.

3. Update your website
Go through your Sent Items to see what type of questions you get a lot. If they're not questions you have to think about and answer fresh every time, they probably belong on your site as a Frequently Asked Questions site or on your website somewhere else.

4. Turn on your out of office assistant
Remember to give the dates you’ll be unavailable, if your clients need to route their query to someone else and a number to contact you if it’s urgent.

5. Declutter
Do a good clear-out of any paper, both on your desk and in your files. While you're feeling the lovely rush of endorphins, do a good clear out of email and document folders too.

6. Plan for when you're back
Write down the top 3 – 5 things on your to-do list for the day you’re back at work. Jot down a maximum of 5 items because you know you’ll be catching up on email!

This will ensure that you hit the ground running and that you beat the feeling of overwhelm.

Enjoy your holidays!

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