How to Go on Vacation Like a Program Manager

We’re strong believers in work/life balance, and not the kind where you spend 50% of your vacation stressing about work. To make sure projects and to-do’s don’t come along in your suitcase, take an XPLANE program manager approach to vacation prep.
 
Step 1: Plan
Google Sheets are an easy way to create and share a coverage plan with co-workers.
 
For client projects, we create a grid giving each project its own row and using columns for important details:

  • Brief description and status
  • Team members
  • Client contact info, including time zone
  • Where to find relevant files
  • Additional nuance: e.g. if clients can only be reached on certain days or if they have a firewall that prevents them from using our file exchange
  • Columns for each vacation day and what’s expected to happen when
 
Step 2: Resource
Determine with your manager which colleagues are best suited to cover each project and add these proxies to your Google doc. Give each proxy a different background color, so it’s visually easy to see who’s responsible for what.
 
Step 3: Communicate
Internally: Share your Google Sheet with your proxies. Set a meeting to walk each through your coverage plan to discuss any questions or concerns. They can update your Google Sheet with notes while you’re out and/or you can schedule another meeting to catch up the day you return.
 
Be clear how disconnected you will be. Do you plan on checking your voicemail or email at certain times? Will you have unreliable cell service or Internet?
 
Externally: Let clients know you’ll be out about a week in advance, so there are no surprises. The day before you leave, introduce them to who will be covering for you via email.
 
Set up out-of-office email saying when you’ll be back and if there is a general contact, like your manager or an account rep, for unexpected emergencies.
 
Step 4: Execute
Go on vacation and order a drink with a paper umbrella. You can relax and recharge knowing everything is under control.