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What tech leaders do before going on vacation

How to be a responsible leader even while you're away.

tech team   leadership  


As a technical person who leads a technical team, I know firsthand that it can be easy to get lost in finishing up your own work before a vacation. It takes a bit of dedicated attention to ensure you don’t neglect the day-to-day tasks that don’t vanish while you’re away.

Here’s a pre-PTO checklist to make sure you’ve taken care of those responsibilities before you take off for a much-deserved vacation.

Does everyone know who’s supposed to do what?

A lot of information lives in your head alone, despite valiant efforts to document all the things. That’s the nature of the work. Instead of attempting to disseminate everything you’re thinking through, focus on the work your team will do while you’re away.

Hopefully, you already have a centralized list of priorities. Ensure it’s up to date, and that all the tasks that could conceivably be done during your time off have been assigned a caretaker.

Are there any decisions waiting on me?

Review notes, discussion boards, and ask your team directly if anyone is waiting on an answer from you. If you’re able to make a decision before your vacation, do so. If not, delegate the decision to someone else with a clear explanation of your overall goals and any applicable parameters.

Don’t neglect internal auto-responders

Set up auto-responders for communications from the public, as well as from your team! While a response from your public email may say that you’re out of the office and when you expect to be back, an internal auto-responder is an opportunity to provide even more value.

It could take the form of an email response for your internal inbox, but a post on your team’s message board or chat channel also works. Let people know where to look for information they might need, who to turn to if they need help while you’re away, and where to find your centralized priority list so they can decide what to work on next.

Tidy up loose ends

Finally, close out work that depends on you and that no one else can do. If it’s work you can delegate with some written guidance attached, you might choose this route instead of attempting to finish it yourself in a hurry.

If you hand off any work, ensure that you communicate clear instructions as well as any deadlines.

Set expectations and follow them

Your vacation is precious time to recoup, relax, and make room for those creative moments that only visit a quiet mind. Ensure you set expectations with your team for how often you might check in, if at all.

If you do decide to log in while you’re away, be sure to protect your privacy and your company data with a privacy-focused VPN on all your devices.

Responsible vacation planning for technology leaders

I hope you benefit from the ideas in this post. Here’s an easy way to put them into practice right now: grab this post as a pre-PTO Notion checklist template and instantly gain conscientious leadership powers!

Get checklist as a Notion template

Don’t leave your team members hanging while you’re away! If you have other ideas for good things to do before your vacation, I’d love to hear about it.

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