How I made my vacation a success – personally and professionally

So, you want to go on a vacation, but when do you have time to get it all put together and planned? We all have a lot going on in our lives. Even when things are going ‘well’, we still have homes to keep up, grass to mow, gardens to harvest, children to teach to talk/walk/bike/drive/date,  friends and family to keep in touch with,  oh yeah, and a day job to keep on top of.  And from time to time we have to merge our home and work life when we couldn’t get everything done at the office between 8-5.  Oh, and don’t forget, you were trying to plan a vacation!

Make time and do it! Day to day life, and work, can, and will, survive without you.  Here is a list of things to consider and do before heading out (or in).
Keep the vacation plan simple
If you don’t feel you have time to plan a big extravagant vacation – don’t.  Stay local and just relax.  For me it was nice to be a couple hundred miles away.  It made me feel that if my team REALLY needed me I could come back and help, or find a library with internet where I could log on for a meeting or to check email. But, guess what?  I could have been on Mars for all my team cared… everything progressed without a hitch.

Pick a place with limited internet coverage
This will force you to disconnect for at least a few hours a day.

Prepare your stakeholders
Before you leave, take some time to send your stakeholders a progress update.  It might be a couple weeks before they get another one, and this is one thing you’d probably not want to leave up to your project liaison (see below)… as budgets and timelines most likely aren’t their strong suit.

Set expectations with your stakeholder that you will be out, identify who will be covering for you and let them know that you will provide the project status again when you return.  (This is assuming roughly a 1-1.5 week vacation).

Assign a project liaison
Make sure all of your projects have a point of contact if the client needs anything.  Each project can have a different person and that person doesn’t need to be a Project Manager.  In my recent experience with going on vacation, having a non Project Manager as the project liaison was ideal.  By putting a fellow team member in charge, it empowered them to be the knowledge holder for the week. This resulted in a team that is primed to be in control and the responsible for the work they need to do, in the order they need to do it – as it should be but isn’t always the case.

Meet with the project liaison on important tasks and dates before you leave
It’s important to remember that the person helping you won’t have the extensive knowledge that you have on a project, but you need to ensure that they have key dates for task completion, and next steps.  This way the person covering for you isn’t completely overwhelmed and afraid they are missing anything.

Assign a home liaison
Again, try to keep things simple. Consider paying a neighbor kid $10 to come water your gardens and ensure the mailbox isn’t overflowing with SWAG.

I recently went on a ‘stay-cation’ of sorts to my family’s lake cabin for a week. I was 130 miles from homes and 10 miles from internet other than my phone.  I followed the above steps and the only thing that didn’t survive without me: my petunias.

Now, let go of your inner control freak, trust your team, accept the dead plants, pay the late fees on your bills and LIVE!

dead_petunias swings


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