By Sherri Selesky, CPCS

Your suitcase is packed, your passport is in your carry-on, you’ve checked into your flight to paradise, but something is missing. Oh, yes! You forgot to prepare for your time away from your career. Whether you’re anticipating a much-needed vacation or encountering an unexpected absence, it’s important to prepare for your return to the office before you leave. In all likelihood, no one will do your work while you’re away and, let’s be honest, you are busy, busy, busy! Even if they don’t realize it, physicians rely on you to keep things in order. Your emails stack up, you return to a full voicemail box, and your stress levels go into overdrive.

Here are three strategies to put in place before you depart that will help you glide back into your routine.

Turn on Your Out-of-Office Email Autoresponder: This is a life saver. Set it up to send automatic email messages to your internal and external contacts while you’re unavailable. Include the dates you’ll be away and an alternate contact for urgent issues. In the absence of an out-of-office message, your internal and external stakeholders may think you are ignoring their messages. When you return, set up a brief meeting with your alternate contact to review matters they’ve already handled. Next, prioritize your remaining messages. An email from the Medical Staff President is obviously more important than the cafeteria menu.

Change Your Outgoing Voicemail Message: Just like your email message, your outgoing voicemail message informs the caller that you won’t be in the office and who to contact in your absence. To up your away game, leave your fax number and email address on your voicemail. If you’re like most MSPs, about 20 percent of your incoming calls are inquiries for your fax or email to verify staff privileges.

Sign Off with Your Coworker or Supervisor: Inform your colleague about outstanding or urgent items, and provide them with the information they will need to answer questions or resolve the issue. This gives them the opportunity to feel comfortable with dealing with your appointments, reappointments, reports, and projects while you’re away.

When you have a plan to manage your work while you’re away, you’re well-positioned to hit the ground running when you return. Without a plan, the stress can snowball, leading to a mad scramble, harsh interactions with coworkers and stakeholders, and miscommunication.

These three tips just scratch the surface of what you can do to reduce stress during your time away. But these basics will keep you organized, content, and relaxed during your absence.

Now, go relax and enjoy some sun and fun!