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Top tips for a stress-free vacation from your Secretarial or PA job

RMS Recruitment Lonodn Out of Office

Are you the type of indispensable PA or Secretary who more than compensates for your 2 week summer holiday by doing so much extra work before departure, leaving you so exhausted from the additional hours, that you end up face down in a Margherita on your first night away?

If this sounds like you, follow our Top Tips for a stress-free vacation and leave the office on a high instead of ragged from the pre-departure work frenzy. 

Forward planning is the key, so start early!


As soon as you book your vacation:


  • Calendar block not only the actual vacation period but also block out your last day in the office and the first day you return so that you can’t be dragged into lengthy meetings as you are preparing to leave or when you are trying to catch up on your first day back. 
  • Pre-schedule a meeting with your boss at the beginning of the week you leave, so that you can agree what work must be done before departure and what can be postponed until after vacation.
  • Request a temp to cover you and be responsible for the hiring decision so you know who will be care-taking your Inbox and handling calls.  Ideally you will use the same temp each time so they can add value to your break rather than add to your Inbox.  Arrange for them to complete any dull but necessary office admin tasks which are long overdue – good temps want to be kept busy, not clock watch.  Don’t be afraid to delegate – if you get the right experienced temp, they should be able to cover all the work you do.  Make a handover template for all the information the temp will need each time including organisation chart, job description, useful contacts, then amend with current projects and tasks (see 1 week before vacation below).


2 weeks before vacation

  • Notify high priority customers or managers of your vacation dates so they have the opportunity to raise any urgent issues well before your departure. 
  • Check your boss’s calendar to see what they have scheduled for your vacation and aim to prepare briefing documents for them – you will earn additional brownie points and they will be less likely to disturb your vacation if you have made the extra effort to be helpful. 
  • Shop for holiday essentials in a quiet lunch hour so you don’t have a stressful last day dashing to the shops for suncream or worse paying over the odds at the airport. 


1 week before vacation

  • Decide your urgent v important tasks for the week (and this is the one time when urgent might have to take priority over important.)
  • Meet with your boss at the start of the week you leave, to agree work priorities for your last few days and to communicate any work, which you plan to leave for your return, in case there is a discrepancy in expectation. 
  • Obtain your boss’s support for a work-free vacation without phone or email so they set the example for the rest of the office. Poor reception/stolen phone/ all day watersports holiday can all be used as great excuses if you have a boss who tends to disturb your vacation. 
  • Prepare a handover document for the temp or colleague who will be covering for you. Make sure it includes logins and passwords for any accounts only you normally access.

Last day before vacation

  • Arrive at the office early to work on the urgent items, which you absolutely must complete before holiday in case an emergency crops up later in the day. Aim for a zero Inbox even if it means transferring emails to a folder for action upon your return – you will feel so much better leaving an empty Inbox!
  • Hand over briefing documents to relevant people, which update them on where you are with key projects. Even if projects have not been completed, they will feel more secure that you are taking the work seriously and aim to complete it upon your return.
  • Set your automated “Out of Office” email message and voicemail from lunchtime onwards so that you can screen emails and messages and decide what might need a response before you leave. Make it clear you will not be responding to emails. If you say you will be monitoring emails from time to time, people will expect a response!
  • Make a list of priority work for your return date to act as a reminder in case of post holiday amnesia (we all get it!) and to give your fist day back a focus rather than scrolling through emails. 


Last minute before vacation!

  • Check your desk drawer and office fridge for uneaten food! Your colleagues don’t want to be reminded of your absence by the bad smell emanating from the half eaten egg sandwich! 

If you have done all the above, surprise people by leaving 5 minutes early to avoid the last–minute holiday spoilers. Walk swiftly to the exit secure in the knowledge that you can feel good about switching off at the very start of your holiday instead of worrying about all the things you left behind. 


If you are planning holidays this summer and want to arrange temp cover, please call our friendly temp recruitment consultants at RMS Recruitment London on 0207 518 9170 .

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020 75189170

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