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Are smartphones awesome or do they suck? I don’t think I’ve ever had a love-hate relationship with anything more than my iPhone. On the one hand, I use it to track exercise mileage, check the weekend weather at the Jersey shore, watch a movie, listen to music, read email, and so on.  On the other hand, this damn, wondrous piece of technology has made it virtually impossible for me to leave my office. Ever.

Before the advent of the smartphone, we used to be able to take a vacation. I mean, really take a vacation.  No emails, no texts, no phone calls from your office mates.  I submit that you can still do this IF YOU WANT TO. And, frankly all bosses out there should INSIST that their employees unplug. If employers let their staff truly decompress and leave the office behind for a week or, GASP, perhaps two, employees would come back rejuvenated, re-energized, and ready to contribute, vs. “getting back to the grind.”

But, in order to actually unplug, people need to take a series of necessary steps to make sure they are covered in the office.

What’s the best way to do this?  Write a thorough status report on all the projects you are working on, email a copy to your boss and your team and have a meeting to review it prior to your departure.  Here are some tips on what should go into that document to make sure nothing blows up while you are away…

  1. Organize your report on a project basis. This document should be an easy-to-read, but comprehensive reference tool to be used during your absence.
  2. Describe each project and where you are in the process. Don’t make assumptions that everyone knows what you are working on.
  3. State the deadline and/or various deadlines that need to be adhered to for each project.
  4. List the names of all people – both internal and external – that are involved with each project, along with their phone numbers and emails.
  5. Assign a point person to handle any hiccups that may arise while you are away and introduce that person via email to all parties. Don’t dump all of your projects on one person.
  6. If there is an aspect of a project that needs to be followed up on, assign that duty to someone prior to your departure and put that in bold in your report. Send a calendar invite to that person to remind them of this task. Make it impossible for any balls to be dropped, otherwise your phone is going to ring.
  7. Don’t assume that someone will check on any aspect of your work while you are gone without reviewing it with him first. This is why a team meeting to go over this report is imperative prior to your departure. You can’t simply email it out and expect people to read it.
  8. Make sure to set up an automatic response in your email settings, alerting people you are on vacation and providing the names, emails and phone numbers of individuals who can assist with any inquiries while you are away. Make it clear that you will not be responding to emails until the date upon which you return.

Now, what’s it going to be?  Margaritas on the beach?  Sounds good to me…

Carpe diem

Image Credit: ivyexec.com