Taking vacation over the holidays? Don't fall behind

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(MoneyWatch) As we make our way into the holiday season, you may be weighing whether or not you can afford to be away from the office  to take a real vacation. Then, once you've committed to time away, you may be thinking about how you'll stay in touch.

Brad Karsh, President and Founder of JB Training Solutions, a leadership coaching firm, and co-author of "Manager 3.0: A Millennial's Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management", says resist the urge to check in. Take your time, he says, and make the most of your vacation by leaving your smart phone in your hotel room. "I am a firm believer of taking all of your vacation time, and truly taking a real vacation by 'unplugging' while you're away," says Karsh. You'll return rejuvenated and ready to do your best work. "That said, there are important tips to follow and things to keep in mind so that you don't fall behind or lose traction at the office," says Karsh. Here are four:

1) Have someone else check your email

Ever get back to your office after a week away and feel like you need another vacation after going through thousands of emails? Prevent this by having a trusted colleague go through your email for you. "Have someone on your team file what is no longer relevant, so when you return, you can easily get back to anything that requires action," says Karsh. If this doesn't make sense for you, consider checking your email once a day while you're away, so you stay on top of things but minimize the impact logging on has on your vacation.

2) Brief your team in advance

If you're a manager, the best way to minimize the disruption to your team, and their ability to help you do your job, is to keep them in the loop on your vacation plans. "To help ease the burden on your return, see if you can delegate some of your work. This is an excellent chance to give an emerging leader on your team a chance to step up and shine. Introduce them via e-mail to key contacts/clients in advance so they can be the point of contact in your absence," says Karsh.

3) Catch up on sleep

Sometimes, vacation puts us back into college mode, when we didn't have to get up for work, so we stayed out later without worrying about the consequences. Unfortunately, Karsh says this can negate a big benefit of vacation--catching up on your rest and being more effective as a result. We're not saying you shouldn't enjoy a late evening or two while you're away. Just be sure not to sign up for sunrise yoga the next morning.

4) Be strategic with your calendar

Give yourself a cushion the day before and the day after your vacation where you don't schedule any big deadlines or meetings, says Karsh. "On the day before, brief your team/the emerging leaders who will be filling in for you on what is happening. On the day after, treat the person who filled in for you to breakfast as a way to say thanks and catch up on what you may have missed. This way, you'll be looped in on what you missed before you even set foot in the office!"

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