If you run a business, you know better than anyone that vacation days are often spent working. A 2018 Harvard Business Review analysis of CEO time allocation found that chief executives work 70 percent of their vacation days, averaging 2.4 hours of work per day. Ninety-two percent of freelancers reportedly work on vacation.
Burnout has serious biological consequences, so if you truly can’t plan a zero-work vacation, it’s worth putting a little extra effort into making sure your working vacation doesn’t just become another day at the office.
Tips for Preparing for a Relaxing Working Vacation
There are a few things you can do to help lessen the amount of work you need to do while on vacation. Start with these areas.
Streamline your calendar.
Start by rescheduling any meetings or calls that don’t absolutely have to happen during your time away from the office. There may even be meetings or calls that you can simply not be a part of and then you don’t have to reschedule for later. Ask yourself if there is someone else on your team that can step in for you to be your eyes and ears.
The fewer things you have to be “on time” for during your vacation, the less stressful that extra work will feel.
Go beyond the standard out-of-office email reply.
Communicate with your customers and employees ahead of time whenever possible to let them know that you will be away from the office. And depending on your workflow, you may want to update the auto-reply on your website inquiry form and use the “sort” feature to keep your inbox focused on your top vacation priorities.
This is also a great opportunity to shore up any automations for pulling data and sharing reports. Smart redundancies on your team can make this even easier — if you share the keys to the quarterly reports, for example, you have a little more flexibility for travel dates.
Prioritize responses based on ROI.
Make sure your team knows what to forward to you and what to handle alone. You may be used to handling all the hot leads and major crises, but your team needs to know the first steps they can take without you.
If a major client needs something while you’re gone, can someone on your team provide the kind of service they’re used to receiving from you? If you’re a solopreneur, do you have a network you can lean on?
Openly communicate with your co-vacationers.
Whether you’re heading to Disney with your spouse and kids or touring wine country with friends, having conversations ahead of time will help set expectations for everyone. Clarify the time and space you anticipate needing. Will you need a quiet hotel room, and if so, will you rely on your spouse to take the kids? Can you set up at a coffee shop while your friends shop or hit the pool? Setting boundaries and expectations now will decrease the chance of awkward or frustrating moments for everyone while on vacation.
Make the most of your destination.
If you need to be working, you may as well make the most of opportunities you have on vacation but not at home. Can you set up a wellness activity as a motivating deadline for a big project? Make a call from a lounge overlooking the city? Jot down notes on new product ideas after a hike through a rainforest? Talk to locals about how they run their own businesses, and learn from cultural differences? Leverage your environment to spark creativity that will move your business forward when you return.
Catch up on professional development.
If you can’t turn off your brain but don’t have hard deadlines during your vacation, make good use of travel time to catch up on relevant podcasts, dream about the future of your business, and read some nonfiction that speaks to your industry.
Plan your internet access.
This is remote work 101, but it bears repeating: Figuring out now how you’ll access the internet and make phone calls (especially abroad, from a flight or from a cruise ship) will save you time and hassle on your vacation. You can also reduce your reliance on an internet connection. For example, Office 365 Calendar allows you to turn on offline access, and many cloud-based word processing, spreadsheet and design programs have similar features. Make the most of them!
Plan to relax and recharge.
During a typical week, you might schedule time to go to the gym, meet with friends, go to dinner and relax. Schedule these things during vacation, too. Blocking out some hours to turn your phone and email off will give your brain a little bit of a break. Some things can wait, and in order to build longevity in your business, you need to curb burnout and fuel your own spirit. A well-planned working vacation can do just that.