How To Transition from Work to Rest & Relaxation

You’re ready for that seasonal vacation or your scheduled R&R break.

As the weeks and days get closer, is your stress level increasing? – Especially if you are in the middle of a project or one that will not be done before you leave?

I know. There’s so much to do. I get it – it’s hard to let go. You feel responsible for your role and the project because, let’s face it, you care.

You can decrease your stress level. Here’s how:

Identify 3 priorities.

Look at your calendar and book 30 minutes of uninterrupted time (i.e. no pop-up e-mails or alerts, the ringer on your phone is on silent mode, your door is closed or you leave the office/work space to find a quiet place) to do the following:

Identify a maximum of 3 priority activities for your job that must continue in your absence.

Tip 1: If you don’t know where to start, write out everything that comes to mind then, determine what the 3 most important items are.

Tip 2: With all that you are trying to complete before you go, consider asking your manager or team what they feel the priorities are. Avoiding assumptions will save you time. You or your manager/team may realize, upon reflection, that there is another key priority and/or that one is actually not as important as once thought.

Outline processes.

Once you have your 3 priorities, determine if you have clear processes outlined and in place for them.

If yes, skip ahead.

If no, open your calendar and find a 30 minute to 1 hour window in the next few days to document the processes. Include where the information can be found and/or who to inquire with to learn more about these processes.

Tip 1: For future reference, as soon as you know about your next scheduled break/vacation, book time in your calendar to do this earlier. It will prevent you from you from feeling pressed for time within the weeks leading up to R&R.

Note lessons learned.

Schedule another 30 minute window in your calendar to jot down a few lessons you have learned related to each priority. Maybe it’s how much time something actually takes versus the time a process is predicted to take. Perhaps it’s directing you replacement to key stakeholders who you know can expertly help them navigate through anticipated and unanticipated challenges.

Book 2 meetings.

Book a meeting a few days (i.e. 3-5 days or earlier if you have more time) prior to your departure with the aim of providing the process documents and sharing lessons learned with your replacement. Next, book a follow-up meeting. This gives your replacement time to review the document, reflect on what you have shared and prepare questions in advance. Don’t forget that this also helps manage your time effectively because the follow-up meeting mitigates impromptu interruptions from your replacement who may want to clarify what is in the document or on lessons learned. You’ve named the date. You’ve both agreed on it. You’re left alone to get work done while your colleague takes the time (if they choose) to review the what’s expected.

What to keep in mind.

The actions outlined above are meant to help ensure the smooth delivery of objectives you are responsible for as well as for transfer of knowledge. Remember:

Put yourself in the shoes of your replacement.

They have the skills to figure out the role regardless of whether you do the above however, the steps you take help them manage expectations of where things will go well, where they are likely fall apart, how to manage this and where, when overwhelmed, the person should focus her/his efforts (i.e. the priorities). Setting them up for success also builds trust between the two of you.

Exercise leadership.

Taking these steps demonstrates leadership. You are thinking ahead and ensuring the project runs smoothly through a transition in staff.

Demonstrate your strengths.

People can’t know what they don’t know. Keep your manager in the loop by sending an e-mail outlining the steps you have taken (i.e. you have documented processes; informing them of where the documents can be found; and letting them know of the meetings you have had with your replacement). The e-mail serves as a reminder of your project management and leadership skills. A great thing to have on file to remind your boss of when it is time for a performance review.

Exercise caution.

When sharing lessons learned with your replacement, be careful. Be careful not to blame people/teams for inefficiencies or other factors that impede your project. Doing so could very well damage work relations instead of build healthy ones. It can also threaten the success of the project. Do yourself and everyone else a favour; give the stakeholders you work with the benefit of the doubt – that they are working from their best selves and ensure your replacement has a good understanding of what to expect.

Clarity and letting go – that is where it’s at!

Making the time to take these steps may feel overwhelming however, doing so will give you a level of clarity on what is in order and what really needs attending to. At the very least, outline the items you want to go over with your replacement and what is reasonable to relay within the days remaining.

Tip 1: Pace yourself with each step so you are not overwhelmed.

Tip 2: Closer to the date of your departure, set a daily objective specifying 1 thing you can reasonably get done and what to let go off. If you do more, great! If not, that’s ok.

Leave a comment at the end of the post with the 1 action item you will take from the list above to get yourself set-up for a great R&R! Let your post encourage others to take actions that will help them enjoy their time off too!

Wishing you much rest and relaxation!

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