June 9, 2019

Sara Rusniak

Running with Rusniak: Four Things I’m Doing This Summer to Really Enjoy My Vacation


It’s the end of the school year and the official start of summer for many of us. The next twelve or so weeks will be filled with long days of sunshine, warm temperatures, and hopefully some days away from the office. AAA reports that two-thirds of all family travelers (68 percent) will embark on a summer getaway in 2019. My family tries to hit the refresh button each summer with a trip to the beach (even if only for a long weekend). If you are like me, summer vacation is something that you look forward to for quite some time, but something that also creates bouts of anxiety.

As a member of the gig economy, a business owner, and an independent contractor who works virtually, I can clock in and out from anywhere. While this gives me flexibility, it also makes taking a bonafide vacation more complicated. I find myself stressing over how to physically unplug during my time away because even though I’m gone from home, I don’t have to take time off of work. If I want to, I can choose to wake before my family does and sneak in a few hours to chip away at my email inbox. Recently, my husband and I tried to remember the last time either of us took a full week (Monday through Friday) off from work. We recalled it was likely just after we got married while on our honeymoon—seven years ago!

This year, when I’m on vacation, I vow to be better about shutting down and getting away from my work to enjoy time with my loved ones away from home. To make sure I follow through on this promise to myself, I’ve prepared a “cheat sheet” to guide me in preparing for my time away and give me the peace of mind that all will be in order when I return.

My Four-Step Guide to a Stress-Free Vacation from Work

1. Communicate out-of-office time in advance.

I’m sharing my plans for an almost work-free week with all of my clients at least a month in advance of my time away. This will allow them the opportunity to identify “special projects” that may arise during my planned time off. Then, they can arrange to either deliver the requests to me in advance of my trip or wait to begin the new tasks after my return.

2. Prepare for emergencies.

As a one-woman show, I don’t have a “second in command” that I can delegate tasks to or tell my clients to contact in my absence. Because of the nature of my work, it’s really quite impossible to step away and unplug completely, so I am going to coordinate just one hour each day (during my daughter’s nap and my husband’s gym time) to handle emergencies. This will allow me to keep on top of my inbox and triage incoming requests so that nothing falls through the cracks and creates issues for me upon my return.

3. Audit recurring tasks.

I’m conducting an audit on my workflow and processes for at least a month, hopefully for a full quarter, before my trip. This will allow me to make sure I know what tasks must occur when. Then, I will schedule additional time before my trip to complete recurring items that I would normally tackle during the time that I’ll be on vacation.

4. Power down my phone.

I’m looking most forward to this tactic! When was the last time you turned off your phone (other than to reset it)? When I travel out of the country, I always power down my phone to avoid unnecessary international charges. Besides the economic benefit, I enjoy being untethered during my trips. So, why not apply that same policy to domestic travel? This year, I plan to turn off my phone during family activities while I’m away. With no flashing lights or buzzers to notify me of incoming messages, I won’t be tempted to check my inbox or answer business calls. Moreover, I’ll able to stay present with my family and thoroughly enjoy my time with them. Also, it will force me to use my DSLR camera to capture our memories (and with better quality than my phone’s camera!).

What Are Your Go-To Tips for Getting Away?

That’s my master plan for holding myself accountable during my upcoming vacation; do you have ideas to add to my list? What tips and tricks have you used to make your time away from the office as enjoyable as possible and your return as painless as possible? Leave a comment—I would love to hear your thoughts!

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