How to Plan for Vacation

The idea of taking a vacation is supposed to be a relaxing one, but for many creative professionals it has the opposite effect. Instead of visions of carefree days, they worry about how work is going to progress while they’re gone: Will coworkers manage the blueline process appropriately? What if a design problem comes up that requires my input? Can staff members take on my responsibilities, or will there be disaster awaiting when I return? The concerns can be endless.

The good news is that when it comes to vacation time, advance planning can make all the difference. By facing any worries head-on, you can leave the office ready for your days off. Here are some specific tips that can help you leave your cell phone behind for that week in Costa Rica:

Have a plan of action. Evaluate your workload several weeks before your vacation. Are there any projects reaching a critical stage while you’re gone? If so, what steps can you take now to avoid potential problems? For instance, if you know marketing managers will need ad copy work outsourced to freelancers during your absence, line up the services of these professionals now, even if the finer details haven’t been approved. Then, your coworkers won’t be scrambling to find writers; they’ll simply need to forward the additional information to contacts when it’s ready.

Establish a point of contact. Ask someone on your creative team to be in charge of your projects while you’re on vacation—and offer to do the same thing for him or her in the future. Provide clear instructions on what to expect and how to handle certain types of situations. Avoid calling in during your personal time "just to see how things are going" or you’ll send the message that you don’t trust the person to make the right decisions. Instead, let your point person know how to reach you in an emergency.

Also look for assignments that can be delegated to others in your group. This can be an ideal time for employees to expand their skill sets by working on new projects. For example, you might ask a graphic designer to participate in a meeting with the marketing and public-relations departments about ongoing promotional campaigns.

Tell people you’ll be out. Give managers, staff members and other key contacts plenty of notice that you’ll be taking a vacation. People may want you to address certain issues before you leave, and you want to prevent a last-minute rush just before your time off.

When creating your "out of office" email and voicemail messages, be sure to mention that you’re on vacation and won’t be checking messages—even if you plan on spending your days at home. Leave the name and number of your coworker should people need assistance during that time. If you remain connected to the office, you’ll minimize the rejuvenating benefits of having a break, including your ability to bring a fresh approach to creative projects.

Keep in mind that if the president of your company takes time off, so can you. Just be sure to prepare in advance and make sure everyone on your team has what they need to keep projects moving along smoothly while you’re out. You’ll find it easier to make the break and enjoy your vacation time.

The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and Web professionals on a project basis with a variety of firms.