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Find it hard to get away? 4 planning tips

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Do you find it too hard to break away? Don’t become one of the vacation-deprived Americans who leave their vacation days on the table. More than a third of American workers don’t take their days off, mostly because they’re too stressed before, during and/or after vacation, according to a survey by

Joan Burge, the CEO and founder of the training firm Office Dynamics ( and the author of Become an Inner Circle Assistant, says, “Pre-vacation preparation can go a long way toward ensuring we enjoy our time away from the office without worrying about what we’ve left behind.” She offers this advice to admins:

1. Identify a backup. Even if you plan well, unexpected issues will likely pop up while you’re gone. Think about who could manage in your place. Whom do you trust to review your voice mails, e-mail, etc., to ensure nothing critical waits too long? Tip: Offer to return the favor to whoever is willing to help.

2. Give a brief tour of your workspace, so that at least one person knows where to find important files on your computer or in your file cabinets, just in case a report you turned in before you left suddenly needs a fix.

3. Work ahead now. If you know you’ll be taking time off, check your schedule from now until then, as well as in the month following your return. “What can you complete now—or work ahead on—so that you won’t have to worry about it later? Try to accomplish one extra task every day if possible,” Burge suggests.

4. Change greetings before you leave. Clearly state that you have no access to messages, and offer a colleague’s number or e-mail address instead. That way, you can relax knowing that every contact will be cared for.

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