How to Go on Vacation Without Getting Behind on Work

By Carrie Smith on 8 September 2015 0 comments

As a self-employed freelancer, and the breadwinner for my family, I understand the importance of balancing work and life. This means that I have to make time for family, friends, and travel, so I have to put my business on the back burner.

No matter how much you enjoy your work, there will be times when it has to take a backseat to other personal or social priorities. This is particularly important during the busy summer months when you'd rather spend time outdoors or on a road trip.

So how do you enjoy a getaway without feeling guilty or stressed about work when you return home? Here are six tips for going on vacation without getting behind.

1. Consider Taking a Workcation

The definition of a workcation is simply that you're taking your business with you while you're away, and plan to work a few hours a day. Essentially, you do work while you're on vacation. While this may seem like defeating the whole purpose of a vacation, setting aside even just one hour a day to check in could alleviate a lot of stress and worry. It's never fun to come back from a trip to find an overwhelming inbox. Just be sure to limit your time and return to vacation mode guilt-free.

2. Set a Vacation Autoreply

This tip may be one that's suggested a lot but setting a vacation auto reply for your email inbox will help you set (and keep!) boundaries while you're away from the office. Clients need to know they won't be hearing a reply quite as quickly, and you need the peace of mind knowing that you aren't under pressure to respond right away.

3. Return Home a Day Early

When I worked at my full-time job, I usually returned home from vacation on Sunday, the day before the regular work week was to begin. Doing this allowed me to stretch my vacation out as long as possible. The downside though, was that I felt rushed coming home and sometimes had to deal with jetlag the next day at work.

I've since learned to book flights and trips where I return from a vacation a day early so I can prep the upcoming week, buy any groceries to restock the fridge, and do a few loads of laundry. That extra day is the most effective thing I do to make sure I don't get behind on work, or feel rushed when I step into the office Monday morning.

4. Write Down a List of Homework

If you're unable, or don't want, to take your work with you while on vacation, write down a list of things you need to accomplish when you return. Think of this as a "homework" list of to-dos so you won't be scrambling to get organized when you arrive home.

Make a game plan before you leave that ensures all of your projects and client work will still be completed on time. When I create my homework list, I usually bring it with me so I can add ideas and tasks throughout the vacation. Getting it written down, and off my mind, ensures I don't forget what I need to do and keeps me from stressing about it the entire time I'm away.

5. Reassess Your Schedule

Now that you have your list of homework, take all of those tasks and break them down into specific priorities. Which ones absolutely have to be completed this week? Can you postpone some appointments to make room for more important to-dos? Review your schedule and prioritize everything that needs to be done based on the level of importance.

When the week is over, if you only get four or five tasks completed, which ones will make you feel most accomplished? Move these to the top of the list and tackle them first! Any time you have remaining at the end of the week can be used to catch up on less important tasks.

6. Prepare for Setbacks

What happens if you lose your phone? How can you get work done with the Internet? What happens if you forget the power cord to your laptop? (That actually happened to me once.) Before heading out of town, prepare for any unexpected emergencies that might pop up.

Create a backup plan for getting in touch with your boss, or checking in with your team if you need to. The last thing you want is to be on vacation, and off the grid, when an emergency happens and you have no way of getting in contact with anyone.

As you take time off to enjoy the summer holiday, use these tips so you can return home less stressed. You'll have more fun and actually look forward to your return, without getting behind on work.

What's one thing you do before taking time off from work for a vacation?

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