I write this post from a hospital bedside.  My wife has been through a whirlwind of surgeries the past week and we are still adjusting to some complications. 

As we sat talking last night, my wife reminded me of a recent fortune cookie: "Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday."  With some major "wait" time, I thought about what I had to do to prepare for the surgery and the possible problems. Here are a few tips to help you plan for your time away from the office, whether for a vacation, work trip or even a medical emergency:

  1. Whenever possible, "plan ahead" and schedule your days away.  The real point here is to actually "plan" you time away from the office.  When you are talking about a vacation, mark the time off on your calendar, even if you are staying in the area.  While this may be harder for emergencies or minor trips away, you can at least plan that you will be out a certain number of days following the event.
  2. Tell your clients and customers about your time awayWhether you are an attorney, a business executive, an architect or project manager, you should tell your closest relationships about your expected absence.  Even if you don’t have time, make sure you set up your email to send an automated message about your time away from the office, informing them of the date you are expected to get back and giving them an emergency contact number.
  3. Schedule your "away" work and deadlines before you leave.  If you find that you have a project deadline that occurs while you are away, either finish the project, assign it to your closest ally, or get an extended deadline … all before you leave.  If you plan to work while away (which I would not advised while on vacation), then prepare folders for each individual task.  That way, you can grab a folder if you have a spare couple of hours to work, whether on a plane or in a waiting room.
  4. Find access to wi-fi.  Most hotels, vacation hot spots, and even hospitals have access to wi-fi.  But you should make sure ahead of time.  If you cannot find wi-fi access, there are numerous applications that can turn your mobile phone into a modem for your laptop. 
  5. Pick an ally in the office to help you during your absence. It is important to have a strong network of co-workers in your office. Although your customers or clients will be aware that you are unavailable (or have limited availability) while you are away, there are situations where emergencies may occur. In such a case, prepare a trust-worthy co-worker to help you while you are away, whether it involves your regular work tasks or things that need to be done on an emergency basis.

Question: Do you have any "away from the office" tips?

Image: Melissa Venable