hhir-ketchup-catch-up

Going on vacation has its pros and cons. The pros are obvious....time away from the office, work and reality in general for the most part. My vacation was extra awesome since I spent it for my wedding and honeymoon with someone completely out of my league. Then there are the cons. Back-logged emails. Tasks that are waiting for you when you return. Deadlines that don't coincide with your personal life. Everybody faces it with some degree. I hadn't taken a vacation outside of going home to Kentucky for holiday weekends since I graduated from school, so this was a new challenge for me. From a week of learning, here are some quick tips I've learned to avoid being overwhelmed from being unplugged for a week or more.

Plan Before You Leave

This may sound a little obvious but I could see how it could be an easily overlooked detail. Prior to leaving, I let all the team members on every account know weeks ahead of time when I would be out so they could anticipate being short a hand in advance. In addition, my DIG team members were great at stepping in and handling some of my day-to-day social monitoring tasks in addition to fielding any social questions from account teams while I was out. It's not always something you can control but having smart, savvy teammates to help back you up makes life tremendously easier when you get back from time away. I know it helped me :)

In addition, if you know there are some deadlines facing you when you get back, try and tackle them early. I had a few really long days prior to leaving trying to get a little ahead but it helped me not feel nearly overwhelmed with deadlines when I got back from the honeymoon.

Prioritize Emails

This is one thing I dreaded when I got back but I found a strategic way to spend way less time. I went through all of my emails and flagged the top email of any long thread. That way I could read the whole conversation in one sitting rather than opening up several different messages. I also flagged anything else that would require me to do more than just skim. If your email box looks anything like mine, many of the messages I had were daily email notifications from the various publishing services I use that weren't necessarily time sensitive.

From there, I filed all the flagged posts into different folders by brand. That way, I could tackle all my catch-up work by account and not be near as scattered when I finally started getting back to work.

Take One Thing at a Time

The above email filing trick is one way to accomplish this. By going through messages one account at a time, I was able to take things at a much easier pace ('easy pace' being a relative term in an ad agency). However, it's a mental trick to take things one at a time. I could have freaked out seeing "Oh no I have 500 emails and tasks to get to!" Instead, I broke things down mentally thinking "I only have 12 messages or tasks to do for this account" then "15 for this brand" etc. Sure it's the same amount of catch-up work but keeping tasks segmented and using other task management tools like Wunderlistare easy ways to keep the stress levels at a minimum.

Don't Waste Time Writing Blog Posts About How To Catch Up

Staying focused and on task is crucial to catching up in a timely fashion. That said, I'm getting back to work.

What tips do you all have when catching up from a needed vacation?

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