Three months ago, my husband and I (with the support of two very helpful grandparents) took our daughter to Disney World. It was the first weeklong family vacation we had taken since her birth three years before, and I wanted to be fully present (i.e., not be distracted by my phone or by my work) during the experience. When we booked the trip, I set out to get organized so that I could better enjoy our time away from home. I identified four things I could do to really enjoy the vacation and got to planning.
Mission accomplished; those planning efforts worked! Now, several months later, as I’m preparing for my next extended break from work (the holidays!), I’m finding value in revisiting my approach. I’m hoping this vacation prep postmortem will help me better prepare and realize my goals of enjoying my time off at Christmas and New Year’s. Maybe it will help you think about how you can make the most of your time away from the office, too.
My four pro-active tasks to complete before my trip were:
- Communicate out-of-office time in advance.
- Prepare for emergencies.
- Audit recurring tasks.
- Power down my phone (while on the trip).
The Master Plan – A Look Back
1. Communicate Out-of-Office Time in Advance
Communicating my plans in advance to all of my clients worked out perfectly. I provided about two-months’ notice about my trip and then reminded everyone in the weeks and days leading up to my departure. We were all on the same page about my availability during the week of my vacation, and we made plans to “shelve” new work until after I returned.
2. Prepare for Emergencies
I did my best to prepare for emergencies and only had a few tasks come up that had to be handled outside of the time I dedicated to working (my daughter’s daily nap time). The emergencies that arose could be managed from my phone, and I didn’t have to turn on my computer until day six of the seven-day trip. I consider this a huge win!
3. Audit Recurring Tasks
Something that helped me minimize the volume of work that I needed to complete during my trip was auditing of my recurring tasks in the months leading up to my vacation. Before I left, I completed all of the “regularly” scheduled work that would have been due the week of my vacation and the week after my vacation. This meant that the daily tasks I normally complete during those two weeks were done before I left for vacation. As a result, I felt less stressed during my time off and avoided feeling overwhelmed upon my return. I think this paid off the most when I got back, as I was able to dedicate my time to getting through my inbox in a timely manner instead of focusing on the normal tasks I complete from week to week.
4. Power Down My Phone
I didn’t succeed at this. And I realize now, it was probably an unreasonable expectation to set for myself. I used my phone often to take photos, check the maps of the theme parks, book meal reservations, and to carry out other tasks. I would have been lost without it! However, I did succeed in avoiding my email applications and taking client calls. So, although I didn’t wholly follow rule #4, I believe I fulfilled its purpose.
I certainly haven’t found the perfect system and balance for how to be a successful mompreneur, but I’m trying to get better at it every day. Our vacation was magical, and I’m glad I took measures to prevent my work from interfering with it. In fact, I was so present during my trip that I lost track of time and forgot to check-in a client for his flight (forcing him to board at the end of the B group). Oops! Here’s hoping that the holidays will also be magical for the Rusniaks—and for you and yours. May we all enjoy our time together with family and friends (and manage to stay out of our inboxes!).