Having a Guilt-Free Working Vacation!

Having a guilt-free working vacation is something I wanted to master.  I read all the articles on how to have a work-free vacation.  But I’m one of the people who is closest to where the buck stops, so it is extremely difficult to have a work-free vacation without needing a vacation when I return to see the piles that are waiting for me – emails, contracts, bills…Then I spend the day before I return to work trying to reduce the piles, because on my first day back to work, I have been scheduled, in absentia, in back-to-back meetings just to catch up on what I need to do now that I’m back!  Got it?

If you are a business owner, or a senior leader, having a work-free vacation is unrealistic.  I’ve tried and tried, but something always gives me a reason to have to get in touch with my business partner, the HR person, the bookkeeper, etc. So, I’ve embraced having a working vacation and not feel guilty about doing so.  Here are my 10 tips for a guilt-free working vacation:

1. Create a transition document for your work team.

Write down all the things that you will need done while you are gone, give ownership of each task to specific people on the team, email the list and leave it in an easy-to-find location in a shared folder..

2. Make family, friends, and clients aware that you will be doing limited work.

If I am traveling with family, I tell them upfront that I will be doing some work during my vacation so we can schedule tours or family outings knowing that I might have to be back by a certain time.  If I need to leave an outing, I make sure that they stay to enjoy it while I arrange for separate transportation to return in time for my meeting.  As for clients and colleagues, put an “away” message letting them know that you have limited access to emails and phone and designate the people on your transition document as the “go-to” people who will manage their accounts.

3. Ensure your hotel/location has wi-fi.

This is a simple thing in 2017 but not all hotels have wi-fi, while some limit wi-fi to a single device. If I know I will be working, I will call ahead to the hotel to ensure that I will have a connection. I ensure that the wi-fi is secure, with a code, so that my Outlook can be certified to access emails. This pre-work pays off in the long run.

4. Update your phone/text/data usage plan, especially if you will be international.

I always ensure that my phone plan can support my travel schedule.  If I will be out of the country, I will call to make sure that my international plan will kick in, when needed, and I can access email both on my computer and phone.

5. Check emails and phone messages on a schedule.

I usually check emails early in the morning before anyone gets up, after lunch and, again, late at night when everyone is asleep.  I try as little as possible to interrupt planned activities. I turn off my phone so I’m not tempted to answer it.  This helps me to control when I check messages and use my phone – everyone on the trip knows to communicate with me with text messages – and it’s less costly.

6. Schedule meetings or calls either early morning or late evening.

Once I have the vacation activity calendar, I schedule work time around it.   Only on rare occasions do I schedule activities around my work time.

7. Be present. Stick to your schedule and be present when you are with your family and friends.

That means you are not covertly checking your emails, texting the office, reading contracts, and generally not participating in activities.  Participating in quality time will give you relief from complaints.

8. Take weekends off!

I follow the regular work week from Monday thru Friday while on vacation.  I take the weekends off and not do any work.

9. Don’t act on every work issue.

It is OK to respond with a “I will take care of that when I return” email to acknowledge receipt of an issue.  Do not feel pressured to act on everything that is in your email.

10. Delegate.

I also feel free to delegate burning issues to other team members while I’m away. If something comes up that was not on my transition list, I will ask other team members to jump in and take care of urgent matters for me.

Following these simple tips allow me to keep up with what is happening at work without feeling guilty as well as feel good about enjoying a fun vacation with family and friends.  You, too, can “have your cake and eat it too” by taking my advice to have a guilt-free working vacation.