Last week, I had returned from being out of the office for 12 days! The first 3 days, I had business in Cincinnati. I then went from Cincinnati to Ft. Myers, Florida to join my 86-year old (active) father and my stepmom for a 9 day vacation. This was a long-awaited and much-needed vacation; especially with all that happened with my husband, Dave, the past 9 months.
The original plan was that Dave and I would be going on this vacation together, but it was not God's plan. Off I went on my first vacation alone after 34 years of marriage. While I have traveled alone on business for 20 years, this was different. It was a rather strange feeling and at times, I felt lonely. Thank goodness for my Dad and Liz who are fun! We did everything from just chilling out on the beach to sightseeing, shopping, eating and more eating, laughing and reminiscing.
I tried my best to not be tethered to my Blackberry, emails, texting and more. It really is important to take vacation when you are on vacation. Many of you may have already taken your spring break or might just be getting ready to go on vacation so I'd like to provide some tips either way.
Of course when you get home from vacation, you feel like you never even went away. But if you have had a good rest, you should be full of energy and ready to jump into your work.
Those first two days back can feel overwhelming. Emails have backed up or even if you were checking email, you still go back through to make sure you didn't miss anything or you now have to take action on your emails. Keep in mind that you can only do so much in 8 hours. Be easy on yourself; pace yourself; and take one item at a time.
Prioritize and then focus. As you view everything that has come across your desk whether they are phone calls, new assignments from your executive or your own project work:
Assess all of it.
Prioritize -- seriously! Ask yourself, "What is the impact if I don't get this done in the next 48 hours?" That should help you sort your A priorities from your B and C.
Focus. That is key. Stay focused on each task as you move through them.
Cluster your time. For example, you would work on your Item A Priority; then make a few telephone calls; then sort through emails. This is far more effective than jumping around like a bouncing ball.
Communicate realistic deadlines and when you can accomplish tasks that have been requested of you. If you know you won't have "X" done until Thursday, don't promise it for Tuesday at 5:00. Be real with people.
There always seems to be last-minute chaos just before going on vacation. I knew in plenty of time that my March vacation was coming up. My initial thought (months out) was that I would take my time and pack over several weekends; meaning just pulling some clothes here and there or shoes and beach attire so I wouldn't be rushed at the last minute. Not so. I was so busy with work, traveling, and teaching full day workshops that I did not really start pulling clothes and packing until the night before my flight was departing. Considering I was rushed, I did a fairly good job other than I brought more clothes than I needed, which I regretted after being on vacation and purchasing several items to bring home to family, Jasmine and Michele.
The one item I was good at was arranging who would handle mail, papers, watching my dogs and house, etc.
Some words of advice, if you are traveling soon for vacation.
After you have pulled all your clothes and shoes, put back 25% of it. Most likely, you will never wear them.
Always leave some space for the goodies you buy on your trip.
Be sure the individual(s) at the office who is/are covering for you or occasionally assisting, are briefed on important meetings, information, resources, who to reach and how to reach that person in an emergency situation.
Pack a good book to read or grab your Kindle. Vacations are a wonderful time to catch up on your reading.
Take business cards. Even though you are on vacation, you may meet people on the airplane or at a restaurant. We made several new "friends" on our vacation. By the way, be willing to talk to people who are sitting next to you. It is a really small world.
(During Vacation--remember coworkers who might be holding down the fort for you or filling in for you. You don't have to spend a lot of money. A little souvenir or gift goes a long way.)
I could list about 20 more things, however, I think you get the message. The most important advice I want to give is relax as much as you can when you are on vacation. If you are traveling with family or friends, pay attention to them. Don't be texting at the dinner table or during conversations. Be fully engaged and take advantage of that special time, which you will never live again.
Have a fabulous week! Don't forget... participate in our 3rd Annual Administrative Blog-a-thon. Out theme this year is It's COOL to be an Administrative Professional. And we are giving away the new Kindle with a stylish red leather case!