A Vacation without Work: Before, During and After


We know the truth of it.  Vacations help us rest, recharge, and return to work a better human being.  So, why has this truth not set us free from the worry about what we are leaving behind and what we will return to?

It’s summer and time to go to the beach.  So, let’s make it a work-free beach trip this year.  Here are some tips to focus on your loved ones and experience a truly restful vacation.


Two to three weeks prior to departure:

  • Deal with any meetings that are scheduled during your vacation.  Send a delegate, cancel it, or reschedule the meeting.
  • Consider what decisions need to be made in your absence.  Empower others with the knowledge to make those decisions on your behalf.
  • Examine any open projects.  Are there deliverables due the week you are on vacation?  Reschedule those dates.
  • Block off your calendar the day you return for re-entry.

One week prior to departure:

  • Meet one-on-one with all direct reports (or key business associates) to review current issues.  Attend to priority issues ASAP.
  • Schedule one-on-one meetings with these same associates early in the week you return.  Request that they hold all non-urgent issues until then.

The last work day before vacation:

  • Leave a detailed extended absence greeting on your voice mail.  Give the name and number of a person to contact while you are gone.  Tell callers that you will return calls by close of business of the second day after your return.
  • Write an out of office email.  Specify that you will not have access to email and give names of people who can respond in your absence.
  • Take a walk through your office area and let people know what time today you will be leaving for vacation.

On vacation:

  • Trade phones with your spouse or traveling buddy
  • Relax and enjoy

Your first day back:

  • Take a walk through your office area; get caught up on urgent issues.
  • Check your voice mail and email.  Deal with priority situations first.
  • Save your favorite vacation photo as your new computer desktop background

Remember that time does fly, whether you’re having fun or just plain busy.  The only way to “stop” time is to punctuate it with key experiences and events that make you pause to remember.  Without vacations, our years may end up being a blur of busyness and stress.  I encourage you to separate your vacations from your work and enjoy those relationships and memories that you build.

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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


  1. Russell Wilcox

    Thanks Dr Gratias, I will print, save and will do as you suggest. I leave Friday and return Friday. A very timely topic. Best new year wishes to you.


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