How to plan for holidays and events around project launches

change management flexibility launch project management Aug 13, 2023
Lata in a blue top holding a notebook and smiling; text: how to plan for holidays and events in projects

When you’re working in Change Management, you’ll often be working on projects. And while projects are usually planned out well in advance (yes, even agile projects!), the plan often changes (yes, even waterfall projects!) so you might find it hard to be confident and certain to book holidays and personal events without leaving your project in the lurch or feeling so much guilt you can’t enjoy your break. 


Here’s 3 tips to setting your project launches and your own adventures up for success:


Tip #1: Advocate for avoiding launching near holidays

Projects are super ambitious and they often want to deliver before a major milestone such as a public holiday like Easter or Christmas, or major seasonal events like End of Financial Year or your company’s performance reviews. But the problem with trying to deliver just before (or even worse, just after!) these events is that often people switch off or are super busy in the lead up to the holiday or event, or stay on leave for longer or are super busy after. As a Change Manager, it’s your job to advocate for the people experience and remind the project that delivery is not success: adoption and embedding and the change sticking is success. And in any case, when a go live or launch is planned around a holiday or event, it often ends up getting moved closer to the date because key stakeholders are on leave, approvals take longer, people aren’t in the office, or teams are busy with other priorities. They may not listen, but at least you warned them! When you recommend the project leaves nice, clear space for launch, it frees you up to enjoy those holidays and events, too! 

Tip #2: Always take your leave

If you’re a salaried Change Manager, you’ve accrued leave and it’s your right to take a break and rest and recharge. But even if you’re a contractor, you still have a right to take leave. I was at a networking event once with Project Managers and Change Managers and someone was complaining to me that they couldn't possibly take any leave because they earn a day rate. And I'm like: “Your day rate includes leave. You need to take leave because projects are so busy. It's good not just for your own wellbeing, but also taking time out of the peaks and troughs of project work is when you understand what you want.”  If you just keep going from project to project, that's where you turn up 2 years later on a constantly rolling contract wondering why you don't feel like going to work every day. You've got the leave built into your day rate - it's part of the reason you're earning so much money (as usually you’ll earn more on contract than Permanent or Fixed Term, but go do the math yourself and see what’s right for you). So regardless of whether you’re salaried or contracting, take the leave that you want and don’t move holidays or personal events for project launches because 9 times out of 10 the go live date will move and you’ll never get your break. Get your leave approved, book your trip, communicate widely, handover to someone to backfill you, and take your holiday. You’ll likely return after 2-4 weeks and quite literally nothing has changed in the project since you left (ask me how I know, haha!).

Tip #3: Plan long leave at contract close

If you want long periods of leave, rather than trying to time it with project launch, plan for it at the end of a contract or when you know the contract will already be ended. When I was a contractor, I took 3 months off to follow my passions of flowers and food in the South of France, Sardinia, and Spain then came back to Sydney for a big personal development weekend. How? I was finishing my 6-month contract, knew it might get renewed but booked my holiday anyway. It stems from being really confident in your own skills and value. When you are really confident in your own skills and value, it doesn't matter whether or not your contract gets renewed because you know you'll find a new one. And that's where you can build the confidence to take leave. So about a month out from my contract end date I set up a conversation with my Head of Change, they said they wanted to renew my contract, I then told them of my planned leave, and we extended my contract date for another 6 months and I took the 3 months off un-timesheeted (and therefore unpaid). You can also just negotiate - I’ve had friends who were salaried who wanted to go on a 6-month sabbatical trek across South America and they just negotiated that as unpaid leave. Everybody has the ability to negotiate unpaid leave. Just very few people actually do it either because they don't want to take the financial hit or because they don't want to be rejected. And if your contract is already coming up, who cares? And if you are in an organisation that you've been working for say already a year, and they won't let you take two months or three months off, then do you really want to work there?

Planning out launches is big business and we can totally apply the same principles when we launch publicly in Marketing as when we launch internally in Change Management. I learned launching and created my Leading Successful Change program from the guy who literally wrote the book: Jeff Walker.


Once a year, Jeff opens up his free Launch Masterclass and it's coming up this week. If you'd like to learn launching from the man himself (and potentially create and launch a course, product, book etc of your own), shoot me a DM on LinkedIn with the word LAUNCH and I'll let you know when registrations open.


Lata xx


Affiliate Disclaimer: I am a proud affiliate partner of Jeff Walker and Product Launch Formula and I may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you, if you decide to join Jeff's paid training program.

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