Whether you’ve got children off for the Summer break or are jetting off to sunnier climes over the next few weeks, July and August are synonymous with holidays – possibly because in a good old British Summer you are generally allowed at least three days of fabulous weather (between back-to-back days of hail, wind, rain and possibly snow).  As a result, my ‘holiday top tips!’ blog should be useful for most of you, even if you are stay-cationing or nipping off for a long weekend in the country.

For as stress-free a break as possible, here are my top 5 recommendations:

1.)   Notify your customers in advance of your holiday – if possible, I generally recommend giving customers a month’s notice of a holiday, particularly if it’s over a week.  The vast majority of my customers can be maintained and supported by a trusted associate, should the customer request or require it, and in many cases work can also be completed prior to going away.  It’s worth giving customers plenty of notice though as you can guarantee that if you don’t, a hundred pieces of ‘urgent’ work will drop into your in-tray on your last day in the office…

2.)   Have an emergency contact in place (ideally, not you as the first point of call) – it’s always helpful to have a trusted team member available for any ‘urgent’ customer enquiries that come in.  Please note that ‘urgent’ from the perspective of the customer isn’t necessarily ‘urgent’ from anyone else’s perspective, so having a team member available to separate the ‘legitimately urgent’ from the ‘really can wait until you are back in the office' queries, you can rest assured that your holiday isn’t going to be interrupted unless absolutely necessary.

3.)   Turn your ‘out of office’ on from the morning of your last day at work – this acts as a great reminder to customers who may have forgotten you were going away (despite regular notifications!) and had been considering trying to sneak ‘a quick job’ in before you went away… trust me, ‘a quick job’ never quite turns out to be as quick or as simple as the customer believes.

4.)   Set your ‘out of office’ to turn off one day after you arrive back at work and keep the diary clear on that day – despite your ‘out of office’ notification, it’s likely that you’ll come back to approximately half a million emails; if you’re dealing with customer enquiries from the second you sit down at your desk too, it’s going to take months to work through your in-tray and establish your to-do list for your first week back at work.  Give yourself a clear day (or morning) to read and file your emails and prioritise work and the positive mood that you’ve brought back from your holiday is far more likely to last!

5.)   Turn off notifications when you are away – if you use business management tools (like Slack, Asana or Todoist, for example) on your phone, or receive work emails to your mobile device, consider switching off notifications for these.  It’s all too easy to think ‘I’ll just check that!’ and end up, three hours later, embroiled in some minor customer issue that could have either been rectified without you or could be addressed upon your return.  Alternatively, you could always leave your phone in your hotel/B&B/tent and ignore it completely? I might have to give that a go this Summer holiday…

It’s so important to take some time out to relax and recharge your batteries every now and then, so make sure that your business is adequately prepared for your holiday so that you can really step away from work and come back re-envigorated and at the top of your productivity game.

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