Vacations and working ahead

I’ll be away from my desk for quite a while at the end of August and the beginning of September. I figure one of the upsides of self-employment should be having the ability to do that. However, when you run your own small business, disappearing completely for long stretches of time gets complicated. I recognize that nothing I’m doing is particularly critical, but I do prefer to meet my obligations to produce content on the schedules I have agreed to. I also…like my work. Doing a little work on vacation doesn’t feel like a tragedy.

So with that in mind, I’m doing a few things. First, I have worked ahead on things that require particular recording conditions (namely, my Before Breakfast podcast episodes). I have now recorded and sent in daily episodes through to September 15. That means that not only will I not need to record while I’m away from my fancy recording equipment, I won’t be scrambling during the first week of school.

I have a few writing projects where things need to be turned in and I’ve also worked ahead on those. I don’t want to feel like deadlines are looming while I’m gone. I have also tried not to take on too many time-specific events over the weeks I’m away from my desk. Answering an email when I can is fine (and I know I will be checking daily), but agreeing to be on the phone at 10:30 a.m. can affect a whole day.

That said, some stuff is more fun…and needed to happen at certain times. I will wind up recording some Best of Both Worlds episodes. We also have a Patreon gathering and a gathering for my Summer Reads book club. Those are all scheduled in two 2-hour blocks during one week of the next three…so not too bad. And I’m looking forward to them (and having a little scheduled work can sometimes feel like a nice break during a long stretch of kid time!).

Finally a lot of stuff just won’t happen. My rate of posting here will go down and I will send fewer newsletters. Oh well!

How do you plan ahead for a vacation, and for making re-entry a little less intense?


12 thoughts on “Vacations and working ahead

  1. Vacation always seems to help my perspective, hopefully yours will too. Enjoy and come back hopefully rested and refreshed for the rest of the fall.

  2. I try to keep up with my email while I’m gone at least to the extent of getting rid of things I get by default that I don’t need to look at and in terms of making sure my calendar is accurate. Then the day before return, I try to get through most of what was left because there just typically isn’t time that first day back. Also, this way I know where the progress and problems were and am prepared. My job is project management so it’s important to be up on the status of things. It actually makes me a little crazy when people come back from extended vacation and say “well first I need to go through my 500 emails”. 🙂

    Sometimes, I too will plan to do a bit of work because it’s just easier than making sure someone else knows what to do and also because I enjoy what I do.
    Have a great vacation!

    1. @Cindy- yep, I don’t find email particularly oppressive, so even while traveling I’ll delete stuff and check in once a day if there’s anything truly urgent or important. I don’t respond to stuff that can wait, but it’s rare I’d come back from a trip to be completely surprised by stuff. I guess this is one effect of having work + personal email completely intertwined (as I do…)

  3. Working ahead is such a good idea. Future Laura will be happy. Shows me you are a true Upholder.

    I am thinking about this same idea. I had a very busy week set for Monday – Friday (8.14-18) and the case was just resolved. This means my whole week could be an unexpected but much needed vacation. I decided to book a last minute flight this morning to a family lake house with some cousins who are already there. Hello childcare and R and R. But, I want to be able to address some things during this week because the past 10 days leading up to the rial had been hell. I had to shelve a lot of things to be ready for trial. Should I work 2 hours each morning? But I love the coffee and the lake tranquility. Should I batch it all for Wednesday? What if that is the day we decide to head to the water park or the sand dunes? I just know I don’t want work leaking into everyday with calls at annoying times. Can everything wait until 8.21? Most of it probably can but how will that make me feel? I had a power hour today so maybe that is an idea for vacation work too?

    1. @Nicole – good for you for booking the last minute vacation during what could have been a rough week (but isn’t! Yay!). I would probably do a little bit each day (like 30 minutes at night while people are watching TV) and maybe carve out one day when people are doing something I’m…not so excited about. You may be more into water sports than me…

  4. Hope you have a great time!
    I usually do a little bit of work on vacation, and don’t mind it, but Ive been flat out lately, and I have a week in Fiji in early October and Ive already decided I will totally unplug! I’m going to put an out of office and one of my team can field and triage anything urgent that comes in. I know this seems obvious but in my field it’s pretty common to just answer emails and work when on leave. Looking forward to the break, both for rest and also to think big picture work stuff- I always get perspective and inspired when away.

  5. When I worked for a business like non profit, I noticed how much extra I had to work to get ahead in order to take vacation – it was 2 days of work, which meant in my mind that I should really only take 3 Pto days, but that’s not how this place worked (and they had the gall to ask me if I’d be available by cell phone. I said no, I was camping. It wasn’t a hospital, nobody was going to die in my absence.) in Good Enough Job, the author writes about integrators vs separators (or something like that). I am a separator, zero work during vacation, but I think it’s because my previous work places took advantage, so that’s the only way I know how to be. We also don’t take that much vacation, usually just 1 week a year and some weekends.

    1. @Laura C – there are definitely integrators and separators. I go in and out of work and personal stuff all the time (and work at odd hours – but I do personal stuff during work hours too!) I think it’s partly that I work for myself, and some of the stuff that qualifies as work for me (like blogging — brand building stuff) would be a hobby for plenty of other folks so it doesn’t feel bad to do it at night or some such…

  6. Two things:
    -Clean the house before you leave
    -Take one extra day off on the end of vacation. You NEVER regret having one day to slowly get back into routines!

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