41 Things to Do at Work Before You Go On Vacation

How to Leave Work at Work, Enjoy Your Time Off, and Come Back Fresh

No matter how much you love your job, it’s always nice to take a break.

You may have just a three-day weekend ahead, a week off, or a month-long sabatical. However long you’re taking off, it’s just not the same when work follows you along.

We’re so connected now, it’s hard to leave work at work. Emails, phone calls, texts. There’s unfinished projects, and a backlog of work waiting for you. How do you disconnect? How do you make sure that you aren’t thinking about work the entire time? How do you come back to a clean slate, so you can get off on the right foot when you get back?

Here are forty-one things things you should do before you leave the office for vacation.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Matthias Stolt

  1. Write down everything you need to get done before you leave.
  2. Reserve the last hour or two before you leave on your calendar.
  3. Reserve the first two hours you’re back.
  4. Set an out-of-office reply on your email.
  5. Update your voicemail message.
  6. Clear off your desk.
  7. Clear off your computer desktop.
  8. Capture anything worth saving on your whiteboard someplace more permanent.
  9. Erase your whiteboard.
  10. Wash your whiteboard.
  11. Leave yourself (or coworkers who’ve already left) a welcome-back message on your whiteboard.
  12. Schedule repeating time on your calendar for high-value (Quadrant 2) activities.
  13. Turn off work email on your phone.
  14. Turn off your work calendar on your phone.
  15. Water the plants.
  16. Write down what you did today.
  17. Write down the top six things you want to do the day you get back.
  18. Quit all apps on your computer.
  19. Empty the trash on your computer.
  20. Empty the trash in your office.
  21. Unplug anything that shouldn’t be running while you’re gone.
  22. Set expectations for how you can be reached in case of an emergency.
  23. Set expectations on what constitutes a real emergency.
  24. Archive any emails in your inbox you haven’t already dealt with.
  25. Brain dump everything on your mind into a single text file.
  26. Dust.
  27. Send emails detailing delegated tasks you expect to be done in your absence.
  28. Save emails as drafts if they’ll wait until later.
  29. Check the expiration date on the bottle of Advil you keep in the bottom drawer.
  30. Make sure you haven’t left anything in the break room fridge.
  31. Throw out pens and dry erase markers that don’t write.
  32. Scan any loose business cards.
  33. Plug in things that need recharging.
  34. Adjust the blinds.
  35. Detangle the mess of cables under and behind your desk.
  36. Clean your keyboard.
  37. Set your coffee mug somewhere you’ll remember to take it home to wash it.
  38. Back up your files.
  39. Push any local branches you’re working on.
  40. Quit your email client an hour before you leave.
  41. Delete the files in your Downloads folder.

A little preparation can help you take a vacation without taking work with you. Come back relaxed, refreshed, and ready to go.

Question: What do you make sure you take care of before you head out on vacation? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

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