Skip the Vacation Calendar—Do This Before Taking Time Off

Do these seven things so you can have a stress-free vacation and don't return to a mountain of work (or complaints from colleagues).
Matthew Ritchie
July 14, 2022
7 minute read

After two years of waiting, it seems like everyone is taking a vacation this summer, and that’s actually good news for most businesses (unless you’re an airline, of course).

Research has shown that taking time off can reduce stress, burnout, and fatigue while increasing employees’ focus, productivity, mental health, and emotional well-being—all good things with many of us working longer hours than usual.

Still, people can be hesitant to take PTO if they think getting approval from superiors and looping in colleagues is more effort than it’s worth.

That can lead to undesirable situations and stealth vacations, where employees either feel reluctant to commit to time-off or take the opposite approach and under-communicate they’re going on vacation.

Don’t be a hero. Or a jerk. 

Instead of sticking around when you don’t have to or simply adding your name to the vacation calendar, do these things so you can have a stress-free vacation and don’t return to pissed-off colleagues and a mountain of work.

1. Tell Your Closest Colleagues

Pretty obvious, but it’s worth repeating: once you get approval to book a vacation, let your co-workers know. Give them ample notice, as they may need to reschedule meetings, delay project end dates, or adjust their workload to accommodate your absence.

Aside from being considerate, alerting your colleagues in advance can help them plan accordingly (and may even factor into when they schedule their vacation days).

2. Block Off Time in a Shared Calendar (Or Use This Alternative)

Alright, we know that in the title of this blog post, we tell you to forget about the vacation calendar, but that’s because shared vacation calendars are usually tucked away in a side panel that’s easy to ignore (like in Google Calendar) or so in your face it’s distracting (like in Microsoft Teams or Outlook).

That said, you should block off time in a shared calendar or an alternative as a reminder that you’re going on vacation.

With Nook Calendar’s location booking feature, you can easily select which days you’ll be off work and provide additional context like where you’ll be, emergency contact info, and who can be reached in your absence.

Try it for yourself. It’s great for close-knit teams and more personable and easy to use than many other tools.

3. Delegate Tasks and Update the Status of Projects

Depending on your role, industry, or size of your team (if you have one), you’ll probably need to assign tasks that need to be completed or provide visibility into what’s being worked on in your absence.

Suppose you traditionally use project management or tracking software like Asana or Jira. In that case, you’ll want to check off any completed tasks or provide updates and additional context for anything that needs to be worked on or referenced while you’re away.

If you’re low-tech, something as simple as an email, document, or note with the status and summary of current projects, upcoming deadlines, and who’s providing support should suffice.

4. Remind Colleagues You’re Heading on Vacation

About a week before you ship off on your holidays, you probably want to remind everyone that you’re going on vacation (and on which date).

Sounds like overkill? Depending on everyone else’s workload, your impending time off could be easy to forget. Again, you’re trying to get everything squared away so you can have a stress-free vacation.

Notifying employees that you’re heading on PTO a few days in advance—either through Slack, email, or in your weekly huddle—acts as a simple reminder and helps move things along before you sign off for the week.

5. Write and Schedule an Out-of-Office Email (But Don’t Overcomplicate It)

On your final day before heading out on vacation, you want to write a straightforward out-of-office email. 

According to management consulting company Robert Half, you want to include three things to keep your OOO email informative and to the point.

  • The exact dates of your time off
  • The reason for your absence
  • The people who can help while you’re out

Further, you may want to add the exact date you’re back and when you plan to respond to emails (give yourself a bit of buffer room here).

Don’t forget to check for typos. Proofread carefully because even Grammarly can miss some pretty obvious mistakes when there’s not much text to look over (and your vacation responder email shouldn’t be longer than three sentences, anyways).

Finally, don’t forget to schedule the dang thing.

→ Read More: What’s the Best Day to Go Back Into the Office? It’s Complicated…

6. Update Your Status on Slack

On your final day, update your status in Slack (or the primary internal communication method you use at work).

If you’re feeling lazy, you can select 🏝 on vacation or whichever default status your admin has created. But feel free to add a bit more information or spice up your status depending on the vibe of your workplace.

(Being a Canadian who loves the outdoors, I’m partial to :camping:, but do what makes sense for you.)

7. Finally, Say Goodbye 👋

It’s time to unwind. You’ve earned it.

If your shared work calendar isn’t cutting it when booking your vacation (or deciding when to come into the office), Download Nook Calendar.

And if you want to be the first to know about the new app we’re working on, join the waitlist for our upcoming Beta release.

Whether you’re a sales superstar, in-demand consultant, busy recruiter, or someone who simply needs to schedule a lot of meetings, one thing’s for sure—you’ve probably booked a lot of them over the past two years.

Hybrid work has forced the majority of our meetings online, and while we appreciate being able to wear sweatpants during normal work hours, the time-consuming ballet that is sharing your availability, finding a time to meet, and adding it to your calendar isn’t quite as enjoyable. 

Speaking with everyone from solopreneurs to seasoned professionals, it seems like a lot of people find meeting scheduling software either costly, impersonal, or just plain boring. And Calendly and other alternatives don’t always cut it.

We hear you. 

Everyone is different, and so is how they work. Making good first impressions is important, and you shouldn’t have to pay a premium for them or basic customizations and integrations with your meeting booking system.

Nook Calendar’s meeting proposal feature is already used by tons of high-performing teams for selecting and proposing meeting times outside of their organization. 

Now, we’re making things even easier by letting you build personal pages with shareable calendar-booking links, right in Nook Calendar. Add them to your LinkedIn profile, email signature, website, or messages when finding a time to meet.

We think it’s the best meeting scheduling software out there, and we’re excited for you to give it a try, so let’s get started.

Here’s How to Set Up a Personal Booking Page in Nook Calendar

First off, if you’re new to Nook Calendar—hello! (If you’re already a Nook user, you can skip ahead.)

You’re going to start by syncing your calendar—either from Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook—and entering your work email address.

Once you approve any necessary permissions, you’ll set up your People Bar. Search for any connections and add the people you interact with the most when scheduling meetings.

From there, you can add any additional calendars you want to see (add your personal one, if you like, to further prevent any overlaps when scheduling meetings), integrate with Zoom (so you can launch calls straight from your calendar), and choose your preferred display setting—select Match OS, Light Mode, or Dark Mode.

Launch Nook Calendar, and you’re ready to set up your online meeting scheduler.

Now, the fun begins

You’re going to start by claiming your unique URL for sharing your meeting availability page. 

Your first name appears by default, but really, it can be anything. We recommend using your full name (e.g., /john-smith).

(You can always change your URL in the future, as long as it’s still available.)

From there, you want to complete your profile. 

Your profile pic is automatically pulled in from your Microsoft or GCal account.

But you can add your name, job title, welcome message, and links to social media profiles or professional website, so guests know a bit more about you when booking a meeting. 

Then, you can start setting your weekly availability.

Nook Calendar defaults to traditional time blocks—9–12 a.m. and 1–5 p.m. These are the hours someone can book a meeting from your personal page. Adjust them based on your availability. 

Your timezone is automatically set to your local time, but you can change it if you primarily work with people in a different timezone and it’s better to visualize that when setting your availability.

Choose which calendar you want to accept meetings in—it can only be booked in one, but Nook Calendar will automatically reference your availability in other calendars you’ve synced to prevent double-bookings when someone schedules a meeting.

Now, it’s time to set up some paramaters. 

You can set up your preferred meeting duration in either 15, 30, 45-minute or one-hour increments (or a custom time).

You can also add buffer time to give yourself a break between meetings, or set a lead time of up to 24 hours, so no one can book any last-minute meetings.

And you’re all set! You can preview what the page will look like, then share it with contacts or add it to your LinkedIn profile (we suggest adding it as a secondary URL), email signature, and anywhere else you do business.

Once someone books time in your calendar, you’ll receive an email and get a notification in the Pulse.

If you ever need to make any changes, you can access your personal meeting page in the bottom of the Magic Panel and make any adjustments—either to your weekly availability or personal information.

You can also remove your availability by simply creating events in Nook Calendar and marking them as Busy to block off time and prevent any bookings.

Nook Calendar’s new personal pages for sharing meeting availability are available on Web, iOS, and Android. 
If you have any questions or thoughts, we’d love to hear them. Hit us up in our Slack Community or contact us through Support.