Monday, January 14, 2002

The Success Coach

Tips for coping with post-vacation workload

By Michael Crom
Gannett News Service

        QUESTION: I'm planning to go away on vacation. I'm really concerned about my workload during my absence. I cringe whenever I think about the e-mails and voicemails, not to mention the memos and deadlines I have to handle upon my return. Imagine the hours spent sifting through everything! Any advice you can offer?

        ANSWER: You can help alleviate the situation by implementing these simple steps before leaving on vacation.

        1) Inform the appropriate parties. Besides notifying your colleagues, don't forget the vendors and clients. Call your contacts and let them know about your departure and expected return. A little courtesy goes a long way. Not only are you keeping everyone in the loop, but also enabling everyone to review pending/future projects and deadlines to accommodate your schedule. This will help ensure timely and uninterrupted workflow, and drastically reduce frustration.

        2) Avoid procrastination and finish what you can. Don't leave it until the last minute! Try reviewing your projects a few days prior to departure. Determine which ones need immediate attention or can be completed quickly. For the ones that have to wait until you return, make little reminders for yourself on what needs to be accomplished.

        3) Enlist help and delegate. Approach your colleagues for assistance. Assess your workload and ask politely whether they can help with some priority project details or handle selected requests. Or have someone check your e-mail daily during your absence. Be appreciative of any help they can provide and understand they have their own work responsibilities as well. Spend some time explaining what needs to be done and in what manner so as to avoid confusion.

        4) Organize your voicemail and e-mail effectively. Keep your message succinct. State your departure and return dates. Include a couple of contacts the caller can speak to in the office.

        With these suggestions, you will be able to reduce the accumulating pile of correspondence and paperwork and truly enjoy your vacation!

        Michael Crom is executive vice president, Dale Carnegie Training. For advice on work issues, visit or e-mail


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