Out of office, out of mind: the ultimate guide to taking PTO without guilt

Ahhh, PTO. There are few abbreviations that make us so giddy. But when it comes time to actually take advantage of vacation hours, many of us feel anxiety: How will my work get done? What if my team needs me? Am I going to come back to a ton of work to catch up on?

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We hear you. That’s why we’re partnering with Microsoft Teams to share the ultimate guide to taking PTO without leaving your coworkers in the lurch. Read on, reach out, and get that vacation planned, girl—you’re about to go on a guilt-free getaway.

1. Make a formal PTO request

This step is easy—obviously, you should follow your company’s handbook in requesting time off (whether it be through an HR system, email, or calendar) and get it approved by your manager before moving forward.

2. Share your vacation schedule with your team

If you have a shared team calendar, input your PTO as soon as you know you’ll be vacationing. If you’ll be gone for an extended period of time, give your team plenty of notice so they’re not caught off guard—otherwise, a week or two in advance works well so it’s on everyone’s radar.

3. Adapt your workflow

You might be leaving, but your work’s not going anywhere. Work with your direct manager to figure out the nitty-gritty of what’ll happen in the office while you’re gone. Move deadlines, reschedule meetings, and start conversations about assigning crucial tasks to other employees.

4. Come up with a coverage plan

Your coworkers will be picking up your slack while you’re gone (bless them). Work with your boss to delegate your responsibilities while you’re OOO, then use a project management tool like Microsoft Planner to reassign projects that need to be completed in your absence.

5. Remind your boss

As the date of your departure approaches, give your supervisor a friendly reminder that you’ll be out of office soon, and reassure them that your responsibilities are being taken care of by your team. Your PTO schedule isn’t likely top of mind for them, so they’ll appreciate a second notice.

6. Set your away message

Will you be checking email while you’re gone? Or are you going totally off the grid? Share your availability to set reasonable expectations (and boundaries) for your colleagues while you’re away.

7. Handoff remaining work

If you’ve followed the steps above, you shouldn’t be panicking last-minute about leaving the office. Wrap up what you need to do on your last day, then send out a message in your team chat with any updates on projects they’ll be handling while you’re out.

8. Go forth and vacation!

Today’s the day! Take your mind off those deadlines and kick back and relax. You’ve (literally) earned it.

This article first appeared on Create + Cultivate