work and pleasure

Mixing Work and Pleasure

The working vacation grows more and more common. Last month I drug my laptop and a stack of folders along on vacation to visit family. I wasn’t the only one. The dining room table at my parent’s home was set not with fine china, but with laptops, tablets, and cell phone chargers. Most people prefer not to mix work with pleasure but sometimes it can’t be avoided, especially if you’re the sole employee of your own business. The working vacation seems to be here to stay.  Try these tips to help you stay connected with both work and fun.


It’s Simple: Don’t Work on Vacation

Easier said than done but If you don’t really need to work, don’t. Do whatever you can to get caught up with work before your vacation begins. Unless you’re a travel writer, photographer, or foodie, do you really need to focus on work when you have a beautiful beach to explore? I absolutely had to work. There was no avoiding it. You understand, right? Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple to leave work behind. So, do what you can to unplug the laptop, the tablet, and the cell phone. You need time to recharge. If disconnecting completely is impossible, at least try to minimize the time you spend working.


Be Proactive

If you’re not the only employee, collaborate with your staff and put together a back-up plan. Assign specific tasks to staff. For this to be successful you must get comfortable with delegating. You can do it! Create an “Out of Office” responder, so people who email you not only understand you’re unavailable but have access to your team while you’re away. Choose a block of time each day to catch-up on work. Let your team know this is the only time you’ll be checking in. If you’re a solopreneur you have even more flexibility and can check e-mail and phone messages when it’s convenient for you rather than others. If you have a plan in place before you leave, you’re more likely to stick to it once you’re on beach time.


Hire an Assistant

Consider hiring a virtual assistant to care for your customers and some of the day-to-day operations of your business while you’re away. A highly skilled assistant won’t need weeks of training to get up-to-speed. Most virtual assistants can check email, respond to customers, and take care of minor issues. Many assistants are willing to work on a project basis. A virtual assistant is an excellent solution for both short and long-term business needs. With a little planning, you should be able to have an assistant in place well before your vacation begins. Hello, peace of mind!


Play Hard, Work Less

So, you’ve given yourself permission to work. Remember, the whole point of a vacation is to recharge and relax. Don’t interfere with play time by getting stuck in the cycle of constant worry about what’s happening while you’re away. Set aside time to check email but limit it to 20 minutes. Check-in a few times each day if you must, but unless you see an urgent message, don’t read too deeply into the more mundane communications. Resist the temptation to get involved in things that extend your time limit. Did you know if you use a service like Google Voice, you can set-up filters? Work calls go to voicemail, personal calls still ring through. Now, put your laptop in the bag, turn your phone on silent, and enjoy new adventures. You are leaving the work zone!


Are You Connection Challenged?

As much as you complain about your home internet service, connecting while on vacation always seems fraught with problems. If you’re intent on staying connected to work, there are things you can do to prepare for slow or non-existent internet service. Many cell phone plans now include the ability to use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. You may also be able to use a tethering plan. Bring your own Wi-Fi router and a power strip. Some hotels offer ethernet access rather than Wi-Fi. Most don’t have enough outlets. Two problems solved. If you plan well enough ahead, you won’t suffer from connection woes.


But I Don’t Want to Unplug!

It can be difficult to completely unplug in a hyperconnected world. People are attached to their devices and depend on them for just about everything. Besides, not checking work email for even just a few days usually results in a significant Inbox pile-up. Setting time limits helps, but what if you’re a true social butterfly who enjoys sharing all of life’s moments with the world? Stay committed to brief interactions with work but use technology as a tool to help you enjoy your vacation. There’s an app for just about anything you might need while traveling. Apps keep you on the road – although taking the road less traveled might be more fun. You can find apps to keep a travel journal, create photo books, find a hiking trail, or suggest a restaurant. You’re the boss. If you’re happier staying connected it’s your call. Just make sure to take time to disconnect from technology and connect to yourself.

The key to mixing work and pleasure is a balance. You may not be able to completely avoid work, but you can limit its impact on your hard-earned time away. Commit to spending a minimal amount of time checking email and making calls. Make a point to participate in activities that take you places where you can’t connect with technology. A hike in the woods or a drive to a remote beach where cell phone signals are weak or non-existent. Enjoy sharing details of each day with your online network but afterward, retreat to your hotel room or spread a blanket on the ground and look up at the stars. Happy travels.

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