Are you planning a break, a holiday, or vacation from your business or work this summer? It’s great to get away from it all, but without advance preparation, you may find that you are not “quite” as away as you intended. Interruptions such as phone calls, IM messages etc, can prove to disrupt what should be a proper break away from work. While you attend your “Zen silence meditation” for a week, or “Sit on the beach, drink cocktails and read 6 novels” for a fortnight, or go “trekking the Himalayas” for 6 weeks; here is a great check list to help prepare your communication flow and avoid distractions and interruptions: E-mail OOO Message – ensure your “Out Of Office” message extends by a day to allow you some space to deal with email overload on your return Rules – Set up some basic rules in your email program to automatically clean out your inbox while away, helping to lesson the burden on return RSS Feeds – consider culling certain feeds, especially if coming into your Inbox through collaboration or shared work-spaces. You can catch up with them again on your return Quota – Is your email account straining under the weight of volume of emails? Consider doing a cull on your email account before you leave. Your patience will thank you for it. Read a great post here on cutting down your emails in bulk Passwords – Ensure your passwords are not going to expire while you are away. There is nothing worse than not being able to catch up on your return because you are locked out of your account, and IT Support are on lunch break (it happens!) Telephone Call Forwarding – If you really need to keep up with phone calls, set up call forwarding to your mobile or an answering service Voice-mail– Otherwise, set up your voice-mail to say you are returning a day later, to allow you the time to catch up once you are back in the office Computer Protection – Ensure your anti-everything is completely up to date. Consider doing a complete clean up of your system, defragmentation etc, and give your PC a little spa treatment. Password protect your PC if leaving it behind, even if you do not normally have one on it Backup data– Backup your PCs and Laptops to an external disk that you can remove from the premises or store in a fireproof safe Safety – If leaving your PC behind, consider the safest possible place for it – at home? At work? In a Safe? Also safeguard your USB sticks and other storage devices Power – Whether at work or at home, ensure you always use power surge protectors when using electrical equipment, including one for your phone line if relying on wired internet access. Turn everything off and remove plugs from sockets – no little red lights! Peripherals – Update drivers for peripherals; unplug the ones that will not be in use during your absence Mobile Ensure you have your contacts up to date on your phone if required, and that whenever creating a contact, always use the country code so your phone numbers will operate when abroad (i.e. +353 or +44) Sync smartphones and update apps, software etc Ensure you bring your charger, connectors and all other wiring systems you will require whilst away. Nothing worse than your phone dying with no access to a charger. Consider your calling and data options – do you have a good roaming package with your provider? Would you consider buying a local pay-as-you-go phone while visiting a certain country to save on costs? Choose the best option for your needs. There are great roaming operators and packages available now. Collaboration Shared Files – have you password-protected files that you need to un-protect to allow others gain access while you are away? Events Calendar – block out time away (including that all important extra day on your return) so your colleagues and clients can clearly see you are not available IM service – Consider who is connected to you on Skype, iChat etc, will they be able to contact you while away if you are using that medium? Set your status to invisible or away to protect your privacy Social Media – Be aware about declaring your absence if you are working from a home office. Mindfulness is important when communicating online about your whereabouts (another whole debate here) Office Post – defer your post with your local Post Office Power – If the office will be vacant, shut off power completely if you can, to save money, but to also minimize safety risks Safety – Ensure locks are secure and you make a trusted person aware of your absence and ask them to keep an eye on the place. Also ask them to remove any leaflets/mail that may be left on doorstep etc Water/Gas – Turn off other vital services if possible, and ensure no electrical equipment is sitting on the floor Plants – water well if the break is short, otherwise leave in a tray of water or bring home if necessary This is not an exhaustive list, and it very much depends if you are working in an organisation, from home or running your own business. Either way, you have a responsibility to take care of your equipment, your premises and of course yourself. Please share with us below anything you feel would be valuable to the conversation… Enjoy your break!