How I successfully took a Week Off without interruptions

Taking a real break is probably one of the things that a working professional identifies as almost impossible. But as you might already know, it is one of the most essential and most rewarding for all.

When I filed for a week off, I was ready to be disturbed just like every other holiday I’ve filed in the past but I was equally challenging myself to break a record and have a different result this time around. And I put more bets on the latter.

The result? 1 week of 99% personal time — there was only 1 missed phone call which lead to a 2 minute consultation over workchat and my 2 self-initiated checkpoints, which were probably less than 15-minute work conversations.

This made me think how I was able to accomplish this… and perhaps, it’s worth sharing to the my workaholic circle of friends.

ONE. Believe that you deserve a week off!

TWO: Tell your team (Direct Reports, Extended Direct Reports, Your Manager) as early as possible. But what’s more important is to remind them 2-weeks before that it will happen.

Points to include:

1. Ensure that the dates works for all of them. Why? Because this means they need to be at work while you’re on leave.

2. Be clear that the next 2 weeks is prep for all of you. All projects, approvals, concerns should be done before your leave starts.

3. Reiterate the trust that you have in each of their capabilities while ensuring that things are in place for them to be ok. If you’re worried about some team members, ensure they have the extra support that they need.

4. Let them know that same week off is also available to them. Taking turns also applies to adults.

THREE: Clear your inbox, close critical items, and evaluate your to-do lists. It’s a simple prioritization that I use for my to-do lists: Finish Now, Delegate, or Can Wait until I get back.

FOUR: Have a clear endorsement plan — this is not just about who of your direct reports does what, it should include what your boss needs to be on top off. I am lucky to have a team that is capable, responsible, and independent so in the end, I only had to endorse 3 meetings my manager (and they were all just checkpoint meetings).

FIVE: The day before the leave, send another message to your team and colleagues that work closely with you.

The ones I cover:

  1. Send/raise anything that needs your attention by early afternoon so you can close them off before EOD
  2. They can call/message if things are burning even if you are on leave but they have other channels that they can also go to
  3. Reiterate the Points of Contacts
  4. Remind them of the things that make them successful.

My success reminders to my team were simple:

Stick to the Basics.

Be disciplined and organized.

Care for each other, Support each other, and Love each other.

SIX: Set your Out of Office email notifications and ensure you include your Points of Contact.

SEVEN: The first day of the leave, I actually invested 2 hours in the morning to do a final check and close off anything that came through late and over the weekend. And yes, I had to force myself to close the laptop and LET.IT.GO.

EIGHT: Set your intention to the universe. Manifest. This strengthens your resolve and aligns the universe to help you achieve the desires of your heart. I did mine through an FB post and as a bonus, I got 124 individuals (likes and comments) who shared their whitelight for my goal.

NINE: Mid-week, I think it was Wednesday afternoon. I asked how everyone was and if they would like to give a quick update. This helped me gauge if anyone needs help, my aim was to get them support before things started burning. It was not a surprise that I did not need to do anything for any of them.

Last Pro-tip: 2 hours before EOB Friday, the last day of my leave. I asked my team for an official update for the week and explained that I will probably work a couple of hours on Sunday in prep for Monday. The one thing I missed was doing the same for my manager and asking if she wants me to focus on anything first thing Monday, something for the next week off then. 🙂

Next week will probably be the stress test and there will be more learnings I can add to this. But if I just solely rely on my experience this week, the Week Off was a big win!

How about you? What do you do to prep for a vacation leave? What works?

If you end up trying my suggestions above, please share your experiences.

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