Last week, I took a trip to Puerto Rico for my birthday. This was one of the few trips this year in which it was all for pleasure—no work involved. I wanted to get the most out of my vacation, which can be hard for an entrepreneur like me. It seems like I am always working since I am a one-woman-show, and even though I am a Work Life Management enthusiast, I, too, get caught up in overworking. It is important that I remember the importance of balance and boundaries even for myself.
I’ve been writing a Work Life Manifesto that I hope to release this Fall. In it, I will be discussing many Work Life instances and giving tips and techniques on how to appropriately manage and balance all that is on your plate. I wanted to share with you a little excerpt from the book as it relates to getting the most out of your getaway while balancing appropriately.
Having an email auto-responder that alerts people who email you that you are out of town and away from your computer will allow people to know that you are unavailable. Make sure to set this up before you leave and list the dates you will be unavailable. Please stress that you will not be returning emails until a specific date, and have another person people can contact in case of emergencies. If you don’t have an alternate person for them to reach, make sure you indicate that their email will not be responded to until you return. This sets up boundaries for you while you are on vacation and helps manage expectations on their end. Do not reply to any emails while you are away—this is your vacation. Work can wait until you get back. I promise! (On my most recent vacation, I did not respond to any emails while I was away. I took a chunk of time once I returned to respond. This made me truly enjoy my vacation and be in the moment).
If you are on social media for work reasons, or you are checking your email (you can check it, but don’t reply!), have a time limit. For me, that was 30 minutes tops per day. I limited my tweeting and social engagement, and I am so glad I did because I was able to fully enjoy myself. I was on my laptop for the whole four day trip for about an hour total, and most of that was during my down time (after hours, before bed) catching up on other blogs or reading gossip blogs. No work was involved. It was a very freeing experience. If you are traveling with others, make sure that you all help each other be accountable to these time limits. Your vacation is for you to enjoy, and not be online.
I know we’d like to think that all business needs our attention right that second, but it doesn’t. Know what can wait and how to organize. For instance, when I received an email that I knew needed my attention, I “starred” it so that when I got back to my normal routine, it would get my attention first. I also kept a phone log on my notepad on my phone of calls that I needed to return once I got back. I didn’t make any calls on my trip that wasn’t related to my vacation experience. Again, this takes a lot of commitment but can be done. And I can truly say I was able to “log-off” and enjoy my vacation.
Be engaged and present
I always have my phone in my hand, I must admit. But during this vacation, I tried my best to keep my phone use at a minimum. During dinner, I made sure to enjoy my meals phone free (after I took photos of it of course), and I tried to not take pictures and tweet everything I was doing, as to not spoil the moment. This for me was hard, but I persevered. I kept thinking to myself, “when will I ever get this moment again?” or “when will I be able to truly have a work-free vacation like this” and “it’s my birthday, I want to make it one to remember”—doing so helped me be engaged, present, and in the moment. Not taking it for granted gave me the power to truly appreciate the time away.
This is sometimes the hardest part because we are always working. But simply allowing yourself to relax while you are on vacation is an important step in Work Life Management. Try to turn off your work mind—the project you are working on, your to-do list, etc. A vacation is a healthy way to “turn off” so you can get rejuvenated and refocused. Make sure if you have children that you have dependable and firm caretaker plans for your child, so that you can truly enjoy your experience. Of course things may come up that are beyond your control, but don’t let that take away too much from your enjoyment.
Vacations are taken for you to enjoy them, not to work (unless it’s a working vacation, something I will discuss later). I hope these five tips help you make the most out of your getaway.