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6 things to do at work before leaving on vacation

Written by Nuskha Semaun on 5 July 2021 for Professionals

Taking time away from the office is a fantastic way to lower your stress levels, improve your productivity, and boost your mood. But if you aren’t careful, work problems can follow you on vacation and leave you feeling even more stressed than before you left.


Although exotic destinations might still be too much of a hassle, chances are you’ll be taking a well-deserved break at some point in the next couple of months. Whether that means enjoying a home-based ‘staycation’ or going on a short road trip, here are six things you should do at work before you leave to make your vacation as relaxing as possible.

#1 Turn on your Out Of Office

This might seem like a no brainer, but you would be amazed by how many people forget this step! Set up an outgoing auto-reply email message that says how long you’ll be away for and who to contact in your absence.

For example:

Hi there,

Thank you for your email. I’m out of the office and will be back at [Date of Return]. During this period, I will have limited access to my e-mails.

If you need immediate assistance, please contact [Contact Person].

Kind regards,

[Your greeting]

Setting up this message before you leave will mean that you won’t return to 20 (passive-) aggressive e-mails from customers wondering why they can’t get hold of you!


By the way, if you’re on the phone a lot, it might also be interesting to set a custom voice mail with a similar message.

#2 Prioritize your tasks

If you want to avoid your final days in the office feeling hectic and rushed, it’s smart to be strategic with your planning. Make a to-do list of all your tasks and projects in the days and weeks leading up to your holiday. This helps you avoid the stress of frantically finishing work before you leave or returning to a mountain of backlogged work.


Set clear goals for what you want to finish before you leave and keep your team in the loop.

#3 Find a ‘vacation buddy’

A vacation buddy is someone who agrees to cover some of your roles and responsibilities while you are away. This is generally your manager or a team member.

You don’t want your buddy to have any nasty surprises while you’re away, so schedule a meeting with them and go through your ‘to-do’ list before you leave. Let them know about your main responsibilities and make sure they are clear about what needs to happen in your absence.


If you’re the only one who uses certain tools or platforms, it might also be a good idea to share some passwords with them.

#4 Let your colleagues know

You probably already mentioned your vacation during a lunch or coffee break but sending out a friendly reminder to your colleagues two weeks beforehand is never a bad idea.

Nothing will kill your vacation vibe faster than having to plug back into ‘work mode’ and communicate with colleagues while you’re away. That’s why it’s worth letting your colleagues know about your vacation plans well in advance. This allows them to get anything they need from you before you leave.


This is also the perfect opportunity to communicate some rules of engagement while you’re away (Will I be reachable by email? Will I be checking voice mail messages?, etc.).

#5 Get in touch with (key) clients

If you’re regularly in touch with clients, it’s wise to notify them of your holiday plans in advance.


This gives them the chance to get any help they need before you leave and is a great opportunity to (re)connect and let them know you’re thinking of them. It also gives you peace of mind that they won’t be left high and dry while you’re away. That way you can focus on your main task, relaxing!

#6 Clean your desk

Just before you leave, spend your final 20 minutes in the office decluttering your desk. Leave things spick and span so that your vacation buddy will be able to find any important documents they might need in your absence. It will also help you when you return as you’ll have a neat structure to work from as soon as you arrive.


Also, don’t forget to check your candy drawer or the shared fridge for perishables.


These pre-holiday tips will definitely help you get some more peace of mind in the upcoming summer months. We hope you enjoy your holiday.

And whether you’re heading to the beach or relaxing in your garden, maybe you can use your time off to think about the possible next steps in your career? Remember, you’re not a product of your circumstances, you’re a product of your decisions.

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