By Nicole Tinkham
With Thanksgiving only a few days away and Christmas and New Years right around the corner, it’s not uncommon for everyone in the office to be scrambling around trying to get everything done before leaving for the holiday. This is your chance to relax and spend quality time with family and friends, not stress about work! Follow these tips and get organized before leaving the office for the holidays so you can actually enjoy your time off.
- To-do list
To-do lists are your friend when trying to get things done around the office especially before going away. Keeping all of your projects in your head will only create more stress and you’re more likely to forget something. It may seem tedious, but it’s a good idea to write down each project and the steps necessary to complete them. The last thing you want is to remember an important project as you’re leaving town!
When making your to-do list, prioritize your projects. On the top of your list should be projects that can’t wait until you get back followed by things that could wait. It’s important to make your list realistic. You don’t want to spend your vacation beating yourself up over not being able to complete your lengthy to-do list!
View the end of this post for more tips to making great to-do lists.
- Notes for your return
You may not finish everything on your to-do list before you leave and that’s okay. While you probably don’t want a list of things that need to get done upon your return, it’s important to make note of where you left off before vacation. We always think we’ll remember what needs to get done but in all reality, most of the time we forget.
- Pass off daily tasks
If you have tasks that you do on a daily basis and want to make sure they are taken care of while you’re gone, choose a good candidate (or a few) that could handle these tasks. Just remember, you shouldn’t expect them to take over all of your job responsibilities, just the day-to-day tasks. You’re tasks should be realistic – you have to understand that some projects will have to wait for your return. Communication is key! Before you leave, make sure everyone understands their responsibilities as well as everyone else’s.
- Organize your space
Organizing your work space is a must before heading out the door for vacation. It’ll give you peace of mind when you leave and a fresh start when you return. Also, if you have some help completing daily tasks while you’re gone, an uncluttered desk ensures everything will be readily available. Check out our 9 Easy Office Organizing Tips for some organizing tips and ideas!
- Out of office reply
One thing that’s easy to forget at the end of the day before a vacation is setting up your out of office reply to let everyone know you’ll be away. You want to set up an auto reply to your email stating the days you’ll be gone, a message on your phone with a return date, and even a note at your desk. In your email or phone message, make sure to include information on what to do in an urgent situation.
You may be willing to do a little work while away like answering emails or attending conference calls but you also want to make sure you set boundaries. Let everyone know what you’ll be doing and make sure to keep your promises. If you say you plan on answering emails while away, than actually do it. If you need to take some time without thinking about work at all, make it clear before you leave so you won’t be interrupted!
Making great to-do lists
To-do lists are a great way to keep projects organized not only when leaving for the holidays but also on a daily basis. In fact, it’s recommended to take 15 minutes at the end of each day to create a to-do list for the following day. Don’t waste time creating to-do lists that are ineffective! Here are some tips to help you keep your tasks on track.
- Check your calendar: Your to-do list will most likely contain appointments, meetings, and deadlines.
- Plan ahead: Look at larger projects in the future that you can start tomorrow.
- Focus on what you know: Don’t try to predict what may happen tomorrow.
- Add color: This is a great way to rank your tasks. The traffic light system works well. For example, red tasks need to be done right away while green tasks can wait.
- Notice skipped tasks: If you skipped a task on your to-do list, it should get a higher priority the next day.
- Don’t color-code everything red: You should have an equal number of tasks in each color, or there’s no point in color-coding.
- Go digital: There are many great to-do apps out there such as Remember the Milk. Having digital lists are ideal because they provide a historical record of all lists.
- Try out different methods: Everyone is different so try a few different methods and apps before settling.
- Don’t get too complex: Detailed applications can get too complex and could end up wasting time.
- Don’t clutter your list: Things that you remember to do on a daily basis, like check your email, don’t need to be on your to-do list. All this does is clutter up your list and make it harder to see the important tasks.
- Include an action verb: Try to use words like “finish” or “complete”, instead of “start”. It’s easy enough to start a project, focus on completing it!
- Focus on today: Don’t put tasks on your to-do lists that have a deadline in the future. Focus on what needs to get done today.
- Remember, it’s okay to move tasks to the next day (if they’re not urgent).
- Don’t get frustrated: If there’s a task on your list that you didn’t complete, it’s not the end of the world. You may have had too much on your plate for the day or something unexpected popped up but it’s nothing to stress about.
With these simple tips and an awesome to-do list, you’ll be well on your way to a stress-free holiday vacation! It’s not as overwhelming as you may think. Just remember to make lists, stay organized, and have someone take over small daily tasks if needed. We hope you enjoy some relaxing vacations this holiday season!