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As the holidays approach, it may be a good idea to start prepping for your holiday vacation. Whether you’re planning on spending it at home or on a beach, you’ll want to give your staff and coworkers plenty of time to prepare for your time away. To ensure that everything in the office continues to run smoothly in your absence, here are a few ways to help you and your staff stay stress free during your vacation.

1. Get the word out

No one likes to be caught off guard by a team member’s absence, and the more time that your coworkers have to prepare, the better. Start by putting it on the company calendar and talking with your staff about it, especially with those who will be most affected by your leave. As the date gets closer, be sure to remind everyone that you will be out of the office to give them time to make any last-minute preparations.

2. Share your availability

Be clear about just how available or unavailable you will be during your vacation. If you are planning a backpacking trip miles away from the nearest cell tower or Wi-Fi hotspot, let your employees know. Also explain if you’ll be checking your email or if you’ll take any phone calls. Pick a point person to contact you if absolutely necessary.

3. Work ahead

Before you leave, get your desk, inbox, and workload cleaned up. This may require some late hours or eating lunch at your desk, but it will make vacation much more relaxing. Just as no one likes to come home to a dirty house, leaving your workload in order will make it easier for you to pick things up when you get back and easier on your staff while you’re away.

4. Delegate responsibility

Be clear and specific with your team members about which tasks you expect them to do while you’re gone. If a meeting is pending while you’re away that you’d typically direct, let your number two know which points to cover. You should also be clear about which projects can be put on hold while you’re out. Many managers feel that the office won’t be able to function without them and avoid vacation for that reason. However, time away from the office is healthy, and you should work to cultivate a team that can make decisions without your constant supervision.

5. Set up your autoresponder

To reduce your workload when you get back, setup your email autoresponder, and set your return date for one or two days after you actually return. You may want to list an alternate contact, but if you do, be sure to let her or him know beforehand. If you frequently post content on the web or social media for your company, preschedule what you can to keep the sites active while you’re out.

6. Get things ready for your return

In your last couple of days in the office, prepare a schedule for the week you get back. This will help reorient you and remind you where you need to pick things up when you return.

Vacation can come with its own stresses, and work should not be one of them. If you take the time to prepare in advance for your time off, you can leave with confidence that your vacation will be a time of rest and relaxation.

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