The holidays are coming up, and that means professionals everywhere are cashing in their PTO left and right. If you’re planning to spend some time out of office, here’s how to set yourself and your teammates up for success before you clock out.

Get your PTO approved ASAP

Rarely, if ever, can a whole office take a vacation at the same time so you’ll want to plan ahead if you’ve got your heart set on a few specific dates on the calendar. The holiday season –  especially the days around Thanksgiving and Christmas – are popular PTO times, and are likely to be scooped up months in advance. Often the early bird gets the worm.

As soon as you’ve narrowed down your target vacation dates, submit a PTO request ASAP. (And make sure it’s been approved before you book any non-refundable flights, etc.)

The more of a heads up you give, often the more likely you’ll be to get that vacation time approved, and the more time your teams will have to prepare.

Tie up loose ends and delegate responsibilities to your teams

There’s still some important planning that needs to be done once you’ve received the green light on your PTO request, and it begins with notifying your teams of the dates you’ll be out. This way everyone can mark it on their calendars and keep it on their radar as your vacation approaches.

Here’s a rough timeline of what you’ll need to do to prepare and when.

  1. T minus one month until PTO: in the weeks leading up to your holiday, be sure to keep your PTO in-mind while working out details
  2. T minus one week until PTO: tie up as many loose ends as you can so you’ll have less to worry about when you get back (more work can easily pile up while you’re away). Let your teams know what you have in-process that they may need to jump on or keep moving while you’re out. Discuss these tasks with your teams and delegate appropriately.
  3. T minus one day until PTO: send your teams an email outlining any in-process items and who will need to handle them if necessary.
  4. T minus one hour until PTO: set up you out of office email!

Set up your OoO email

Provide alternative contacts (especially if you’re juggling multiple clients).

Provide an ETA for when you’ll return to the office.

Leave an emergency contact number that you can be reached at if the unexpected occurs (at least with your internal teams).

While you’re out

Go above and beyond by periodically skimming your email for any urgent requests that need to be handled before you return to your desk, and forward along to one of your colleagues.