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Creating Successful Leaders

Compared to people of other nationalities, Americans tend to take relatively short vacations. A Resume-Now survey revealed that 26 percent of Americans have never taken off two weeks straight. What’s more, the average American worker only receives 14 days off per year, compared to 30 in Brazil, France, Germany, and Spain, 28 days in Italy, 26 days in the U.K…the list goes on and, sadly, we are at the bottom of it.

So when we do take a vacation, it’s usually brief. Because of that, there isn’t much time to get into “vacation mode” before we’re forced to return to the workplace. Additionally, because our vacations are relatively short, we sometimes feel pressured to see and do EVERYTHING in a short stretch of time. Ironically, that can make us positively exhausted at the end of a vacation.

What to do?

Ideally, Americans would be granted more vacation days in a year AND actually use them. But if that’s not a possibility, it’s smart to get the most out of your vacation, even if it only lasts a week or a few days. To do that, it pays to take several steps to prepare. Otherwise, you’ll be thinking about work duties as you’re trying to relax on the beach or hiking through the woods, and no one wants that.

Try following these five steps:

1. Loop in Everyone Who Matters

When you’re preparing to take a vacation, it’s not enough to simply inform your boss. Loop in any co-workers you regularly work with, clients who will likely email you, or support staff with whom you regularly connect. If you have any responsibilities that need to be covered, be sure to find someone to take over these duties well in advance. Make sure to thoroughly cover the material and answer any questions ahead of time. The last thing you want to do on vacation is field questions about how to log into a certain system or run a certain report.

2. Set Your Vacation Responder One Day Early

Set your vacation responder one day early. This will serve as a reminder to those who regularly email you that you’ll be out of the office the next day. That way, they can quickly run any urgent business by you before you take off.

3. Take a Half-Day on Either End

If you can, take half a day off before and after your vacation. The half-day before your vacay will give you ample time for last-minute packing, watering the plants, passing along instructions to the dog sitter, or any other final preparations you need to make for the next day. When you return, take another half-day to sleep in and have a restful morning. You’ll probably need it if you have a jam-packed vacation itinerary OR if your flight back is delayed.

4. Set Up House Care Well in Advance (and have a backup plan)

There’s always a checklist of routine items that need attention when you’re taking a vacation that lasts more than a couple of days. Your mail needs to be collected (or you need to set up a mail hold through the post office), your plants and animals need care, your sidewalk needs to be shoveled (if it’s winter and you live in a cold climate), your garden needs to be watered (in the summer), etc., etc. To cut down on stress, set up your house care plan well in advance. It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan or person in mind in case your original plan goes awry.

5. Don’t Over-Plan Your Trip

If your itinerary is filled to the brim and you’re spending most of your time driving from attraction to attraction, you likely won’t feel like you’ve had a vacation at all. I encourage you to tone down your vacation ambitions! Aim to see or do one or two things every day, and have a list of backups in case you’re itching to do more. By keeping your itinerary simple and manageable, you’ll have more time to relax, enjoy the company of your travel companion(s), and even be a little spontaneous (you never know when you’ll fall in love with a restaurant/landscape/attraction and want to stay a little longer).

When you’re planning a vacation this year, do your best to be fully immersed in it. With adequate planning, you should be able to press pause on your inbox, feel confident that things are running smoothly without you, and enjoy the moment. You deserve it.



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