Get the most from your vacation

Planning a holiday can be stressful. Between drafting an itinerary and dealing with outstanding office issues, there’s a lot of work to be done before you can finally relax.

While it can seem as though there’s never a good time to take a much-needed break, time away from the office can be good for business, says Evan Thompson, founder and business coach at Evan Thompson and Associates in Toronto. It can leave you relaxed, energized and alert when you return to the office.

The following tips can help ensure your vacation is a real break from work:

> Commit to a date
If your vacation plans should come up during a conversation with a client, Thompson says, don’t say you’re thinking about taking a holiday sometime soon. Be clear about when and for how long you expect to be away.

If you appear indecisive, clients will feel uncertain about when they can expect to hear from you again. Some clients have even talked their advisors out of taking time off, Thompson says.

To avoid any issues, block off your vacation time in your calendar and notify colleagues and clients several weeks in advance.

> Appoint a go-to person
Delegate responsibilities to the person most qualified to assume your role in your absence, Thompson says. If no one on your staff is properly trained to take on that role, devote enough time to ensure that whoever is left in charge is comfortable with their responsibilities. You shouldn’t focus your energy on training a go-to person just before you leave.

Much of the time immediately leading up to your departure should be spent finishing up projects or reviewing files to make sure everything is in order. Leave detailed instructions for the person filling in, and inform clients who they can contact while you’re away.

Read: Unplug, but use a safety net

> Take a hands-off approach
Trying to figure out which clients you would respond to personally while leaving the rest for your team to handle can be a stressful balancing act, Thompson says. Managing from afar not only disrupts your vacation, but also could give clients the impression that some people are more worthy of your time than others.

In order to return from the holiday feeling recharged, it’s best to take a hands-off approach. You can leave the door open for a colleague to contact you should any issues arise. “The only person you want to hear from is your ‘shadow’ at the office,” Thompson says.

Read: Vacations are good for business

> No poolside prospecting
If you happen to strike up a conversation with other vacationers while enjoying a drink by the pool or a round of golf, don’t turn the encounter into a prospecting expedition. You’ll end up alienating your fellow travellers.

“A lot of professionals make the mistake of turning an evening out into a networking session if they feel they have a live prospect,” Thompson says. “You have to shut it down.”

However, he says, you might consider spending some of your down time reflecting on business. New surroundings can sometimes bring a different perspective, helping you get attuned to big-picture goals.

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