Get organised before you go on holiday

Do you remember what it’s like getting back from leave?

You’re all relaxed, birds are chirping, the sun is shining, there’s no tension in your shoulders and everything’s wonderful.

Then you get to your desk.

After you look at your desk, and then see the 2000-odd emails that have piled up, you’re about ready to take your bag and your car keys and go right back home!

By the way, I don’t believe in taking your work with you on holiday unless it’s critical. I’m planning to block my emails from coming through to my iphone and ipad so that I’m not distracted from lazing on the beach.

I have a few ideas to help you prepare and get organised for your holiday:

1. Advise your clients and friends that you’ll be away.

I suggest that you write separate emails because…well…the tone and content will be different for each of them.

For clients, you’ll be explaining how long you’ll be away, what to do for queries and who your stand-in is. For friends, I like to tell them to please not send me any personal emails. After all, you don’t want to return to an Inbox full of PowerPoint presentations and the friends who really want to talk to you have your cell phone number if they want to chat. Right?

If you’re on Facebook, update your status too.

2. Delegate as much as possible

You need to be motivated to delegate! Now just think how lovely it will be when you get back from your holiday and after scanning through your emails, you only have to attend to about 10% of the emails.

You can delegate to a virtual assistant or my favourite, an auto-responder. I have an auto-responder set up to manage my mailing list so that it delivers my free Time Management Purpose Pack automatically to any subscribers and removes people who want to unsubscribe. Just putting this one thing into practice saves me at least an hour a week.

In your personal life, set up some systems to help you get ready to go and return from holiday. I’ve just asked our cleaning lady to come in on the weekend before we leave and again on the weekend following our return to help me get the house sparkling clean again.

I have checklists but I also update them after each holiday. My husband usually packs some things and I pack others (kids’ clothes). It’s helped me not micromanage and also lessened the load. And worse comes to worse, we’re not holidaying in the middle of nowhere – you can always buy if you’ve forgotten something small but the peace and sanity is worth the delegating.

3. Update your website if you’re a small business owner

Go through your Sent Items to see what type of questions you get a lot. If they’re not questions you have to think about and answer fresh every time, they probably belong on your site as a Frequently Asked Questions site or on your website somewhere else.

4. Turn on your out of office assistant

Remember to give the dates you’ll be unavailable, if your clients need to route their query to someone else and a number to contact you if it’s urgent. If at all possible, leave your out of office on a day longer than you need to gain some buffer time for easing back into work.

5. Declutter and get organised

Do a good clear-out of any paper, both on your desk and in your files. While you’re feeling the lovely rush of endorphins, do a good clear out of email and document folders too.

I have two hours scheduled next week to declutter and organise at the office so I can start 2013 on a clean slate. Honestly, I can’t wait to toss paper! I also can’t wait to break open a new notebook 🙂

6. Plan for when you’re back

Write down the top 3 – 5 things on your to-do list for the day you’re back at work. Jot down a maximum of 5 items because you know you’ll be catching up on email!

This will ensure that you hit the ground running and that you beat the feeling of overwhelm.

Enjoy your holiday!

Marcia Francois is a time management coach and speaker who inspires busy women to break out of overwhelm, make the most of their time and take purposeful and focussed action so they have the time and freedom to live life to the full. Visit http://www.purposefultimemanagement.com for your free Time Management Purpose Pack.

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