With the July 4th holiday, I took a few days off from my work as a project manager. I needed some R&R from my daily life and just booked a few days. Do you ever do that? If you do, you may be in a similar situation as me - who takes care of things while I'm gone? It's an interesting question to have. If you're lucky enough to be part of a well-oiled machine, you may already have a plan. But what if you are new on a project, or new to a company? How do you manage? Here five steps designed to eliminate bugs in your vacation plans:

Step 1:

Find someone to manage all the administrative things.  My analyst is a great resource. He's a team member and a great go-to person for managing daily things. I know that if I ask for help, he'll make sure everything related to the project continues to move forward. Typically, analysts are good choices because they must be in tune with everything. Just make sure they know what's expected and do your best to catch up as soon as you return to the office. I also suggest providing your analyst, as well as team members, with a way to get in touch with you in case a question arises.

Step 2

Communicate early that you are taking some extended time to stakeholders and team members. If there are concerns, they will come up. The earlier you communicate, the better. It will allow time to resolve things or ensure things are taken care of prior to your absense.

Step 3

Document expectations. Project plans are great, but unless the team really wants to get into them, they won't do the team much good without someone providing the details from them. I typically will send an email to the entire team with the expectations. Even if there are no deliverables expected while you are gone, providing direction to the team is imperative.

Step 4

Set your "out of office" email message. This one may seem silly, but it's important. Nothing is more frustrating than sending an email to someone while they are gone and getting no response, especially if it's something important.

Step 5

Plan for your time back. I expect that when I've been gone for a few days or more, something will need my attention as soon as I return. I typically set myself up with some time blocked out, if possible, to get through email and other administrative things. But this also gives me room to handle any issues that may need tending in the short term. I also get prepared for any meetings prior to leaving if possible. I knew I had a sponsor meeting coming up. While I couldn't get all my data together, I could have most of the information pulled together. It just gets me a little bit ahead, just in case. Labor Day is around the corner. What do you do to prepare for vacation?