THE BLOG

How to Handle a Holiday - Before, During and After

30/07/2014 15:20 BST | Updated 29/09/2014 10:59 BST

If you're like me, always at full speed and brimming with idea's, the prospect of taking a holiday can actually be incredibly stressful. You've climbed that mountain and are ticking along nicely, so the idea of stepping back can feel like you'll be letting it all collapse in front of your eyes, but we all know down time is a must. So whether your wife or girlfriend have dragged you away, or you're off out of town with friends, enjoying a holiday is essential for you to take a break and recharge.

I rarely find new ideas for PeoplePerHour far from my mind, but sometimes it's just time to dial it down and take that week in the sun. Now being able to switch off completely is an entirely different problem. But this can be helped by being prepared, and putting all your ducks in a row before you leave. You don't want to be that pompous guy by the pool with his tablet in one hand and smartphone in the other, trust me.

So be an effective executive and prepare. Let your team take the lead while you manage the margaritas, and there'll be no need to waste precious pool time.

BEFORE

Start to slow down a week before and tie up as many loose ends as you can. Make a note not to start major new projects even a fortnight ahead, because complications cause delay, and you can't afford to be late. Either with your client, or for your flight.

Automate your tasks where possible. Keep your social media ticking over with software that auto-posts updates. This is a key way to keep in touch with your customer base, both existing and potential.. Line up posts for certain times and days, and it will be as though you never logged out while you lie in.

Give advanced warning - if you work closely with your clients, let them know when you'll be away and who to contact in your absence. With a larger company, you don't need to over do it. But get the key players in-the-know so they won't get irate when they try to get in touch and you're in Tahiti.

Prep your staff. Before you go away, if you find your team coming to you with questions, use these moments to challenge them. Ask them "What would you do if you couldn't get hold of me?"and if they're way off base, use this time to let them know what you'd like them to do, should this happen while you're away abseiling.

Minimise your contact avenues - your out of office and website should be updated. Confirm when you'll be away, and who to contact in your absence, then give that guy an emergency contact number, to be used wisely.

DURING

Be contactable to a certain degree. Setting aside a block of time each morning before you hit the beach will keep you in the loop and keep you relaxed. Leave your second in command in charge and let him in on the secret that you'll be available to contact on the phone between 9am and 10am every morning. This will keep your customers and team happy, safe in the knowledge that you are available... within reason.

Streamline your methods of contact into one. Make it clear on your Out of Office that you will not be checking your inbox, and have your voicemail tell your clients you will have limited access. Don't promise to be in touch every day to everyone, or you may over-promise and under-deliver.

Bring business cards. You don't want to miss an opportunity if you happen to meet that perfect contact during cocktails. And keep a notepad handy. I find that as I allow my brain to slow down, it will come up with that bright idea I've been waiting for! And you don't want it playing on your mind as you try to relax, so get the idea down on paper and promise to get to it when you're home.

Avoid back-to-work dread. If you've done this before, you'll remember those last few days away, and how much you can worry about returning to the office. Make sure you keep a steady pace even while you're away and you'll know what to expect when you're home.

AFTER

Debrief as soon as you're home. Sometimes, giving your team the opportunity to rise up enables them to make great decisions. Let them surprise you! You may find they had more to offer than you thought, so have a debrief when you get back, let them tell you about all the great work they've done.

Get back on board and back to work. Make immediate contact with key clients who have been waiting for you to get back in touch. You don't have to give them all of their answers, just let them know you're back and working on it so that they're in the loop.

Most importantly, make sure you get the most out of your much needed break without dropping the reigns. And if it's all worked out, you may find yourself taking those holidays more often.