Did you know that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees with five years of experience receive an average of 15 days of paid time off (or PTO) annually? It’s true. That’s precious time to spend with family or loved ones, discover new things or catch up on some old-fashioned rest and relaxation. You’ve worked and deserve the time off, but you want to be sure you’ve squared away everything at work, too. Follow this handy checklist to make sure you’re truly ready to go.

have you notified your manager?

It’s best to notify your manager as early as possible about plans for vacation time — four weeks advance notice is a smart minimum window of time to aim for. Two weeks may not be enough time for everyone on your team to prepare and plan for coverage in your absence.

have you designated a backup?

Responsibility for finding a backup shouldn’t solely rest on your shoulders — work with your manager to figure out the best arrangement. Some companies prefer to hire temporary replacements, others will aim to shift the workload of vacationing employees to others within the organization. Whatever approach your company takes, you should do everything in your power to ensure a smooth transition. If you don’t actually have the opportunity to train your backup in person, you should at least prepare onboarding materials to make life easier while you’re away.  

have you set up your out-of-office email?

After enjoying a long, peaceful vacation, you don’t want to come back to work to find your inbox crowded with complaints from clients or vendors who haven’t been able to get in touch with you. That’s why it’s important to set up an actionable out of office message — or “OOO” — which should contain specific instructions for how key stakeholders can continue to conduct business while you’re away. You might, for instance, include in your message contact information for your backup. You should also do your best to notify these stakeholders of your departure before you leave, just as a friendly heads up. 

Take care of the above and you should be all set to leave. Now, go and enjoy yourself! You’ve earned it.