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  • Andy Robinson

A Super-Productivity Tip: Applying the “Pre-Vacation Process”

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

My wife and I are making preparations for our annual summer trek to the North Carolina mountains (usually to help our son move back to college but since he has graduated we continue with the tradition).

Our plans are to work three days the week we plan to leave, then head out up on Thursday morning, leaving our house-sitter behind to watch the animals.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

In planning the week prior to the trip, I will be doing a particularly thorough job of filtering out the REALLY IMPORTANT things that need to GET DONE before we leave — both work-related things and personal things. Once I’ve identified those things, I will ensure I have sufficient time ON MY CALENDAR to get those things done.

As a result of this planning process, I stopped and stepped back and asked myself…. “Why am I not this thorough and focused EVERY WEEK — vacation or not?  Wouldn’t I have a much better chance of focusing on the MOST IMPORTANT things and getting them done?  Absolutely!

So my commitment is to apply the “Pre-Vacation Planning Process” I go through for a vacation to EVERY WEEK, on EVERY MONDAY going forward.  So, here it is for anyone interested:

The Pre-Vacation Planning Process (that REALLY applies to EVERY WEEK’s PLAN):

  1. Set aside at least an hour, early in the day on Monday, free from distraction.

  2. Close your office door (if you have one), forward your phone, and close down your email application.

  3. Review your near term goals — written and personal

  4. Make note of any ACTION that should be taken THIS WEEK on any of those goals

  5. Review your “project list” and to-do lists (tasks lists)

  6. Make note of items on those lists for which SPECIFIC ACTION should be taken THIS WEEK

  7. Review your calendar for last weekthis week, and next week and consider….

  8. Any follow-ups needed THIS WEEK for last week’s calendar items

  9. Any prep time that needs to be scheduled THIS WEEK for this week’s calendar items

  10. Any advance notice/confirmation, information requests or prep that needs to be done next week or the week after

  11. Make note of KEY ACTION items

  12. Review your paper INBOX and quickly process all items

  13. Make note of ACTIONS that should be taken THIS WEEK

  14. File reference material or other “non-actionable” material

  15. Discard unneeded material

  16. Delegate/forward material that can be completed by others

  17. Now, the BIG one for MOST OF US, review your EMAIL INBOX, and

  18. Make note of ACTIONS that should be taken THIS WEEK; denote those emails in some way

  19. File reference emails that are non-actionable

  20. Forward emails that can be handled by others

  21. Delete non-necessary emails

  22. Review ALL of THIS WEEK ACTIONS as compiled above….

  23. What are the FIVE MOST IMPORTANT things to get done THIS WEEK?

  24. Are you sure?  How do you know you’re sure?  Is that list of five reasonably balanced between business and personal things?

  25. Check again.  Ensure you’ve identified the TOP FIVE.

  26. Do you have crystal clear clarity on the VERY FIRST THING to do with respect to each of those five things?  Make note of it.

  27. Schedule time ON YOUR CALENDAR to get those things done — make sure adequate time is scheduled

  28. Is time scheduled TODAY for one or more of those items?  Why not?

  29. SAY NO, DEFLECT or DEFER anything else that comes your way that is NOT AS IMPORTANT as your TOP FIVE

  30. FOCUS on the TOP FIVE

  31. Keep the TOP FIVE on a list IN FRONT OF YOU

  32. REFLECT on the TOP FIVE at the end of the day, every day

  33. CELEBRATE getting EACH ONE of the TOP FIVE done

  34. REPEAT next week!

Have a great vacation!

Andy Robinson, Executive Coach



"Helping CEO's and executives maximize their influence and impact."


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