Make August Your Personal Rejuvenation Month
Whether you take a vacation in August, or you stay at work while others take off, this month sees a drop in the pressure of daily deadlines. This short-term relief gives you a chance to give your own activities a strategic review, and clear your mind for the return of full-speed working conditions in September.
To make the most of August’s relative calm, take some of these steps:
Declare time off sacrosanct. People at work must not leave voice mails or send update or “quick question” e-mails to those off the clock. That defeats the purpose of going off the clock! As a boss, you should also take issue with vacationers who actually check in regularly, responding to lots of e-mails. This defeats the purpose of relaxation, and robs the vacationer’s brain of take truly rejuvenating downtime that brings him or her back refreshed and full of new perspectives.
Assign support to the leave-takers. Cover the vacationers’ assignments while they are out. Have detailed meetings with the project teams about who will do what each week when specific people are absent for multiple days. And keep track of your own impressions of their tasks. You are new eyes on old work. How might you approach their tasks if they were yours? Be ready to share your thoughts one-on-one when the vacationer returns.
Avoid piling on the deadlines the week before a person’s vacation starts. Too many employees leave for vacation exhausted because they had to do two weeks’ worth of work before taking one week off (as an example.) Consider the week leading up to departure day “decompression and clean-up week,” so that the real rest and relaxation can start immediately when the vacation starts. Facilitate this by shifting assignments to the covering team the week before the vacation starts. This also allows for better coverage, as the pinch-hitters have a better idea about priorities and processes that need attention.
Make August and September “Project Rejuvenation Time,” too
During August you will have “cover meetings” for each project, where you go through the timeline for each and stress-test them against the strategic imperatives for September to December. You will ask questions like:
- Who will be out when?
- How must each timeline adjust for the vacation schedule?
- When must action items happen to make sure the responsible party is here when a deadline looms?
- What deadlines can be moved up or back to accommodate time off?
Use these discussions to reevaluate the project and its schedule. What should change, with six months of experience behind us in 2015? How should we use September to shake up the plan or the process? People coming back from vacation also often show up with fresh perspectives, and some brainstorms may have occurred because they got out from under day-to-day stress. We need to organize ourselves to capture those fresh breezes and implement ideas that have merit.
The point is, make the work schedule accommodate the play schedule over the summer so that you gain the value of refreshed and reenergized employees when they return, which is the reverse of how most leaders approach this August balancing challenge!