Before You Leave Make Sure You…

“Oh man, I totally forgot.”  Stinks when you realize that you forgot to do that thing before you left for vacation, the weekend or a conference.  Stinks especially if that something is something big, it can ruin the time you have away.  I mean you have the option of just ignoring it (and sometimes you should), but if it’s something big that your ministers or coworkers can’t figure out then you feel kind of guilty when you return and you see how much they missed you.  I’m trying to avoid that as I head out for the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Chicago tomorrow.  And as much faith as I have in myself, I know if I don’t:
Create A System then someone will be calling me.  Here are the steps to my system:

  1. Create a Check-list: Sounds simple, because it is, make a list of all the things you need to do and start knocking it out.
  2. Change Your Voicemail/Email: I know this sounds obvious, but if you don’t want an overloaded inbox, let people know you are away.  When people know you are away they’ll most likely leave just one message.
  3. Leave Instructions: If someone needs to find an email, file or your private stash of candy, give them detailed instructions on how to obtain that.
  4. Delegate: If you think about this ahead of time, do not just delegate, but look to replace yourself in certain areas and responsibilities.  This way when you return you have one less thing on your plate.
  5. Review: This is something you do when you return.  If you can sit down with your team and analyze what went well and what didn’t you’ll be able to see the holes and fix any problems.  This will make your job easier in the future.

This system isn’t full proof because we aren’t perfect, but it’s a start.  As badly as you want to get to that vacation or conference you don’t want to leave the people around you hanging.  I once went away for two weeks and when I returned I found that the programs were absolutely stale.  Activities didn’t get played, things didn’t get set-up…it was a minor disaster.  If you can set your ministers up for success in your absence, they’ll be more willing to step up to the challenge next time you walk away.

How do you prepare for when you go away?