With the first month of the year quickly coming to a close, memories of summer holidays are fading fast.
If you’re anything like me, there are only so many days you can spend lazing before the itch starts – the itch to be productive, to feed the brain, to be purposeful. If you’re running your own business, a holiday without the interruptions of “work” is likely to be impossible anyway, itch or no itch.
Having just returned from a week in Fiji, I have been pondering whether it is possible to balance complete relaxation and restfulness with the type of productivity that leaves you feeling revitalised and valuable. The “working holiday”, if you will.
I think it is possible.
Before your memories of your summer holiday fade completely, here are four steps to ensure your next holiday is satisfyingly well-rounded:
Tell your clients and colleagues that you’re going away and either won’t be contactable, or will have limited availability. Tell them who their ‘go to’ person is in your absence and assure them that this person is up to speed on their concerns (making sure they actually are up to speed). If you are checking emails periodically, tell your clients when. You will be surprised how many clients are happy to hear that you’re taking a well earned break and how many concerns that were otherwise ‘urgent’ can instead wait until you are back.
- Have systems in place
There are many ways you can make running your office remotely as simple as using the internet (as long as your remote location has internet!). But you need to have the right set up from the get go. This may mean investing in some up to date software or hardware, to ensure you can log in from anywhere around the world. It helps immensely if you have a paperless office (if lawyers can do it – and paper is our security blanket – there are no excuses: you can do it. It is incredibly liberating). That way, entire files are accessible at the click of a button. These are systems you can’t set up overnight so start thinking about improving your systems now and investing in technology where necessary.
- Have support at home
There will be times when you need someone back home to step in – whether to meet with a client who has decided that the week you are away is the week they absolutely need to come in, or to filter phone calls because international roaming charges are extortionate. When your website goes down while you’re paddle boarding, it should be your web developer, not you, who fixes it. When you absolutely need a copy of the piece of paper you left on your desk, it helps to have someone in the office who can scan it to you. Even a “virtual assistant” (who is working from another country altogether) can monitor your email and bring only the truly urgent to your attention (see above – this rarely happens). Knowing that there is a first line of defence at home will give you a level of comfort and help reduce stress levels. Again, this is something to plan for and invest in in advance.
- Schedule your time
So that you actually get the rest and relaxation for which you booked your holiday, it’s a good idea to schedule in ‘work time’. I like to check in early in the morning, and then tune out for the rest of the day. This gives me the comfort of feeling on top of what’s happening at home, while also being present on my holiday, sharing it with the ones I care for. There are few things more frustrating than a friend or family member continually checking their emails while sipping cocktails before a beautiful sunset. Don’t forget to communicate your schedule to your fellow travellers so that they give you the space you need. It’s amazing how efficient you can be when the sun and sand are waiting on the other side of the door.