As project managers, we live and breathe our projects. We tend to them day in and day out and make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep them on track. But what happens when the time comes when we as project managers need to step away from the action and recharge our batteries. But for anyone who’s ever left the office for an extended period of time (i.e. more than 2 days), the stress of not being able to see what’s going on can completely counteract the recharging that vacations are supposed to do for us. Here’s my top three things that I do when preparing to have a restful (and work stress-free) vacation.
It’s very important that you inform your project teams and clients about your planned absence. Your team needs to know who will be leading them while you’re away. Your clients need to know so that any critical meetings that you need to be part of can be scheduled in accordance with your vacation (this is where lots of notice is key).
Pick the Right Delegate
Having someone that you know you can count on while you’re away is vital to being able to comfortable step away from the thick of things. It is incumbent on you to make sure that this person is not only qualified to lead your projects while you are gone but also informed enough of the current state of the projects as well (critical issues, client temperature, team performance, etc.). If possible you should introduce your clients to the person who will be your delegate so that they can establish the relationship with you still in the fold rather than forcing introductions after seeing and OOO (out-of-office) response from you when they want an answer on an issue.
Prepare to Disconnect
The whole reason we take vacation is to get away from the daily grind and recapture that energy that drives us to success in the workplace. What hampers the ability to recharge is constantly checking on the status of things back at the office. While there may be times where it’s necessary to check in on things (seeing how the go-live went or if the sale closed as an example), to be constantly checking emails during your vacation is completely against the entire principle of taking a holiday. In addition to disconnecting our technology (put that phone down!) we also need to disconnect our minds from the office. Focus on what’s right in front of you – your vacation with family and friends. Truly disconnecting for any period of time is incredibly healthy and will prove to be more valuable to you in the long run than constantly worry about what is going on while you’re not there.
Vacations are supposed to be fun and restful. Sometimes we can get caught up in our day to day grind that we forget to take care of ourselves. By making the right preparations and being mentally disciplined to make sure you truly disconnect from the job for a little while we are setting the stage for us to come back a well-rested performer.
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