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Out of Office: How to Prepare for Extended Time Off So You Can Actually Disconnect and Step Away Stress Free

March 1, 2021

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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Today is my first official day of maternity leave.

I say “first official day” because as I recorded this episode the week before publish, we’re already on baby watch.

At my most recent checkup, my doctor said to pack our bags and get ready, because our little one might make an appearance any moment now.

So – maybe she’s arrived at this point, and maybe she hasn’t. The really funny thing is that her due date is March 16th, and I thought I would be quite safe starting maternity leave on March 1st.

And while today marks Day 1 of maternity leave for me, this episode on extended time off is NOT just for moms to be.

While maternity leave is definitely a very common reason for extended time off, it’s not the only reason – and you may find yourself in need of or wanting to take extended time off from work or from your business at some point in the future – whether that time off is for maternity leave, health issues or recovery, travel or a sabbatical.

So in Episode 70, I’m covering

  • Why prepping in advance is so critical for successful time off – regardless of WHY you’re taking the time off.

  • We’ll dive into what extended time off can look like – whether you’re a corporate professional, a small business owner with a team or a solopreneur

  • I’ll share 5 things you need to consider before you put up your Out of Office message

  • And I’ll even reveal the most important things you need to include in that Out of Office message in order to set clear boundaries and communicate your expectations

I’ll pepper in actual steps I’ve taken to prep for my maternity leave, as well as examples from friends, past podcast guests and even a horror story or two so you can be on the lookout for potential pitfalls.


I’ve put together a free, printable Out of Office Cheatsheet with the 29 questions you need to answer before you head out of office PLUS – two Out of Office Messages that you can copy/paste and edit next time you need to set expectations for your time away.


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Here are FIVE things to do BEFORE you put on your out of office responder for extended time off:

01. Choose your Start & End Date

02. Know Your Financial Plan

03. Craft Your Continuity Plan

04. Set Clear Boundaries

05. Communicate Your Expectations

I highly recommend including the following pieces of info in your next OOO:

First – The dates you’ll be out of the office and the date that you’ll return.

Second – Why you’re out of the office if you feel comfortable sharing it. This goes a step further in helping manage expectations.

Third – When the person emailing you can expect to hear back from you.

If you have a few key groups of people that common reach out, go a step further and communicate how you’re prioritizing each group and when you intend to respond.

Fourth – If you have a second in command, or someone who is filling in for you – provide their email contact information – with their approval, of course.

And Fifth – if you’re a business owner, podcaster, or have some type of content to share – direct them to your latest piece of free content.

During my recent move, I put up an away message for almost a week that explained that

  1. I was in the middle of a move

  2. That I would be back at my desk to respond to emails on a specific day.

  3. That when I returned, I would respond to clients first, then currently scheduled podcast interview guests, then speaking or partnership requests, and finally podcast pitches – in that order.

  4. I also directed them to the most recent episode of It’s About Time to check out while they’re waiting on me to get back to them.


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I got positive feedback from people in each of those groups, because they understood exactly what to expect from me, and it kept them from clogging my inbox by following up multiple times to make sure I’d gotten their email.

I’ve included that full out of office message so you can use it as inspiration, plus my maternity leave out of off message responder in the free printable guide to prepping for extended time off over in the shownotes so you can copy/paste/edit, set it and forget it – until you return from your time off.

Prepping to take extended time off from work – regardless of whether you’re a corporate professional, small business owner or solopreneur is no small task.

Maternity Leave, health issues or recovery, travel or taking a sabbatical are all worth your focus and your energy. And yes – you CAN take extended leave, but in order for it to be successful or even possible, you’ve got to be thoughtful and plan in advance.


LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

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