Prepping For Your Vacation

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It’s Summer! You’ve banked those vacation hours, foregone taking an extended weekend for your birthday, and you’re ready to take some much-needed time off. Relaxation awaits just around the corner.

We’re here to make sure you’re laying out your beach blanket, rather than laying out step-by-step instructions to your colleague, with these tips for a fun furlough.

Cleaning out your inbox

You may never have been able to reduce your inbox to zero, but a good practice is to clear out any messages to the lowest common denominator before bidding adieu.

Go through each email and prioritize with Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Matrix:

  • Important and Urgent – Extremely High Priority
  • Important but not Urgent – High Priority
  • Not Important but Urgent – Low Priority
  • Not Important and not Urgent – Extremely Low Priority

For messages that are Important and Urgent, take time to address those emails prior to your leave. For those that are Important but not Urgent, use the starring/flagging system to ensure that the messages are your first priority upon your return. The Not Important but Urgent emails may be delegated to the person who’ll be covering for you while you’re gone. Not Important and not Urgent emails can be postponed until you’ve made it back to the office.

Oh, and don’t forget to turn on your out of office reply.

Daily tasks

You have job duties that must be done on a daily basis, and you’ll want to ensure that those duties are fulfilled in your absence. Find out if you’re able to pass your everyday responsibilities along to one of your colleagues. If so, carve out some time to meet with your backup to list and thoroughly explain what must be done and when it will need to be completed.

  • Provide your backup with your passwords to any applications that he or she will utilize daily
  • Leave contact information for important connections (e.g., tech support, clients, and vendors)
  • Identify the location of reference materials that will supply the answer to any routine questions that may arise

Since your colleague will be holding down the fort in your absence, you’ll want to make sure that the transition is as easy as possible. Leaving a detailed list of things that must be done and how to do them will eliminate your need to check your phone a trillion times while you’re away.

Organize your workspace

You know the Rockford files are underneath a pile of papers tucked inconspicuously in the paneling of your cubicle, but your colleagues might not. Taking time to tidy up your desk before you leave will guarantee an easy search.

A clean work area allows peace of mind during your trip. Put to rest the pangs of wondering if your coworkers saw all the crumbs in your keyboard or dust bunnies in the corners of your cube with the gift of tidiness. Double bonus – you’ll return to a desk that’s spiffy enough to be on HGTV!

Now that you’ve taken the time to prepare, get your motor running, head out on the highway, and enjoy your vacation!

How to Survive the Company Holiday Party

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.19.06 AMTHE HOLIDAY PARTY!!!!

Or.

The. Holiday. Party………………

Do the three words ‘company’ ‘holiday’ and ‘party’ in the same sentence make you break out in hives? Or do you look forward all year to being able to hang with your work friends in a pretty cool (or different) location?

Now that you’re here (and lookin’ mighty festive, I might add!) – now what? How do you survive (and thrive!) at your company holiday party? We’ve got some conversation starters, stoppers, and stallers to help!

Starters: Need a topic to talk about? People LOVE to talk about themselves. Try these questions!

Don’t know the person you’re talking to very well?

  • What are you doing for the holidays/new years?
  • We’re trying to figure out what to do for next year’s summer vacation – what’s your favorite vacation spot? Any recommendations?
  • I’m in-between books (or TV shows) – what have you been reading lately that you really like?
  • My cat has been CRAZY this time of year with all of the travel and work hours! Do you have any pets?

Worked with them on a few projects, but want to get to know them more?

  • The holidays are always when I start reflecting on the year – what is the coolest (most exciting / impactful / rewarding) thing you did this year?
  • I’m starting to marinate on what to have as my new year’s resolutions – what are thinking about putting on your resolutions list for this year?
  • What did you learn about yourself (workstyle /personal motivation / personality) this year that was most surprising?

Stoppers:

  • Politics: As the election is coming closer, the candidates (and some in particular!) are on everyone’s mind. While this can be quite the (maybe not so joyous) conversation starter we’d recommend steering clear of this one!
  • Religion: Most people believe something and most people don’t want to hear all about what everyone else believes. If you find yourself telling a story where religion is as essential part, make it approachable. There is a way to present what you believe while not sounding like it is your way or the high way.

Stallers: In the middle of a conversation that’s not going well? Try these!

  • Use the bathroom as your friend. Excuse yourself, head to the bathroom for a quick moment, and then rejoin a different group.
  • Use the dance floor as a distraction.
    • Love to dance? Use it as a way to get you and your friend out of the convo and onto boogying!
    • Don’t love to dance? Not a problem. You can always see who is across the dance floor and remember a topic you have to go to talk to them about!
  • “It was so great to meet you!” or “it was so great to see you again!” is a great line to insert in when you can feel a conversation starting to run dry.

We hope these help you survive (and thrive!) at your company’s holiday party.

Have an awesome time!

You Matter

You Matter

Last week we brainstormed ideas on how to keep your team engaged in the summer.

But what about you?

To say that the summer has been busy for you would be an understatement. Deadlines. New hires. People moving on. A crazy team schedule. And that vacation that you barely squeezed in (or are still trying to…).

Sometimes, in the hype of everything that’s going on, you forget to do something to refresh yourself.

Stay positive: In all the hype and the hustle, think about all you’ve done. Know it will all get done again. You are a GREAT manager… let yourself believe that too!

Reward yourself: Both in the big and little things. You made it through the week – YEAH! Treat yourself to a movie. Your team finished their project (even when Jason was out and Mike’s wife had their baby!)… GO TEAM! Treat yourself to the local happy hour. No accomplishment is too big or small to go unrewarded.

Get re-inspired: Especially in the summer, we want that epic story of the vacation where we did something so “different than what we normally do”. But, maybe you don’t have time to take that rock climbing vacation in Costa Rica. Now what? Check out the “Things To Do” section of Groupon or the “Events and Activities” area of Living Social. Choose something you’ve always wanted to do and GO FOR IT! If nothing else, you’ll have a great story!

And, let us know what you decide to do!

OOO- Returning On Monday

OOO- Returning On Monday

… In my absence please connect with Devin Jones for any urgent matters, otherwise I will connect with you once I return…

Your stomach sinks. You NEED to connect with Sam to complete your project for your boss and now she’s on vacation for a week?!

Remember when vacations use to be fun? It seems like at some stage in your life vacations made an abrupt shift – now all you think about is when someone is out of the office how much it throws off your week and creates more work for you.

Somewhere along the way, we started (secretly or not-so-secretly) regretting when others take time off of work. And, making sure that business goals are still met when you have Mary out this week, Simone getting married the week after, and Matt who’s wife is pregnant and may have the baby at any time now, can be a challenge.

How do you keep your team encouraged (and unified) when it seems like they won’t all be together for the next two months?

Sport It Up: Set up a Frisbee game/ happy hour one day after work for everyone who is around. Or, if your team doesn’t like to play sports, set up a time to go see a local baseball game.

Take It Outside: I know, this one seems a little cliché but for a couple of your meetings, schedule it during lunch and take your team outside. It is amazing what a little extra sunlight can do to your mood!

Celebrate the Returns: There is nothing more disheartening (well, that’s a little dramatic) than coming back to work and wishing you had one more day of vacation. So, as people are coming back to the office, send out a “welcome back” email or 20-minute coffee break to celebrate their return!

Let us know how these work for you or what you do to keep your team unified in the summer!

Take a Break

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We’re writing from the U.S.- finishing up the last few work minutes prior to a long weekend.

Are you debating on if you should use your holiday to get a head start on a project or catch up on some emails?  According to FastCompany’s Lisa Evans and serial entrepreneur John Roa in the article “Why Taking A Vacation Can Make You Better at Your Job” – you should probably think again.

It looks like we’re not alone in the ‘work-or-not-to-work’ question – “A 2014 Oxford Economics Assessment of Paid Time Off in the U.S. showed 42% of employees with paid time off finished the year with unused days, leaving an average of 8.1 days unused”.

Why is it important to take time off?

Getting out of the norm can pull your thinking out of a rut by (literally) taking you out of the office. Vacation can push you out of your comfort zone and give fresh perspective once back in the office. It can inspire – help us think differently and have a different perspective on our day-to-day interactions (both at work, and at home).

Just like taking a lunch break is definitely a good idea, time away from the office can help our brains recuperate, refresh our attention, and make us more creative than if we had not.

Our recommendation? Take a break.