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So you’re leaving for a two-week camel-packing vacation
in Outer Mongolia beyond the reach of even the
most determined user. Although leaving your cell phone behind may ensure a
vacation uninterrupted by reports of jammed printers, forgotten passwords, and
mysterious substances oozing from monitors, what about those thoughts nagging
in the depths of your subconscious? Did you remember to ask Joe to fix Ed’s
printer? What about the password you just changed–did you remember to write it
on the list in the safe? And heck, what about the upgrade you absolutely
promised to perform before the end of the week?

To help you rest easy,
confident in the knowledge that your users will be well taken care of in your
absence, here is a sample checklist of things you should think about before
dashing out 30 minutes early to beat the rush to the airport.

#1: Passwords

What passwords do only you know? All critical passwords
should be written down and stored in a secure location, such as a department
safe. Include your own passwords, even if they aren’t that critical. A good
vacation could erase such work-related trivia from your brain. Changed any
passwords lately and not told anyone? Make sure recently changed passwords are
relayed to the appropriate parties.

#2: Outstanding work orders

Do you have any open work orders or other commitments you
haven’t fulfilled? Make sure you tie up all loose ends by completing the work
order, delegating it to a reliable party, or appealing to the user’s good
nature to exercise patience and await your return.

#3: Routine tasks

Identify any routine tasks you’re responsible for. Do you
change the backup tapes or kick off any nightly tasks? Document and then either
automate or delegate all such tasks. If you have to delegate a routine task,
consider setting up an automatic reminder for a few minutes before the task is

#4: Office plants/pets

This may seem trivial, but I once returned from vacation to
discover that my skink had not only expired in my absence but had turned fetid,
swelled up, and rather messily exploded inside her tank. So rather than assume
that your co-workers will remember to drop the occasional mouse in with your
boa, make a list and delegate.

#5: Expected deliveries

Ordered anything recently? If you are expecting a delivery,
particularly if it’s an item eagerly awaited by a user, make sure someone knows
what to expect and when, and what to do with it when it arrives. Ask the person
receiving the order to verify it for accuracy. It’s disappointing to return
from vacation eagerly expecting to play with your new programmable mouse only
to discover that they sent you three dozen pink mouse pads by mistake.