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I rarely take a vacation because of all the work it requires to prepare for my absence. How can I plan for time away from the office?


"The ant is knowing and wise," author Clarence Day wrote, "but he doesn't know enough to take a vacation." Clearly, you embody the best traits of those workers no business could survive without. But you still need to find time to recharge your mental and physical batteries - or risk burning out completely.

The three most important factors in planning your vacation are: preparation, preparation, and ... preparation. Here are some key steps to follow that will help you prepare to take some well-deserved time off.

Begin by listing all your job duties that must go on without you, and then determine who in your organization possesses the ability to handle them while you're away. Next, check which of these candidates would actually be available to cover for you during your trip. Approach your boss (if necessary) to see if you could arrange for that person or persons to keep an eye on those tasks during the time you're out. Last, for those tasks only you are qualified to do, get ahead on as many as possible, and put off those that are not time sensitive until you return.

You may be surprised to realize that the company won't fold during your absence. But just as importantly, you may find your value to the company will increase when co-workers recognize the tasks that don't get done during your absence. Bon voyage!

Dan Lumpkin is an organizational psychologist and president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. E-mail your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com
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