Working Vacations – the Do’s and Don’ts

So I’ve just ostensibly returned from vacation. Or rather, I’m on my way back (I’m literally on a train using the “wifi” that “works”). Since I’ve got this fancy work-from-home job, I took my work with me.

I just checked my hours for the last two weeks, and they were surprisingly high. I’m pleasantly surprised and also a little distressed. Let’s start with the pleasantly surprised part…

I really didn’t feel like I was working very much. The boyfriend and I spent a week in my hometown, Memphis, and then a week in his hometown, Watertown, NY. At every opportunity, I chose family over work. I also chose sleep over work. I also chose partying over work, and there were some really late nights. And some wine. And maybe a hot tub, but that’s neither here nor there.

Still, I managed to get a fair amount done. There are a few places I fell behind, but overall I don’t feel like I’m dreading my return to New York and regular life. Nor do I feel like I missed out on any family fun. This brings us to rule one of a working vacation:

If you’re going to work on your vacation, at least prioritize the reason you’re on vacation.

Now if you’re on vacation to relax and get away from work, well – you can’t work on your vacation. My reason for being on vacation was to visit my family and my boyfriend’s family, though, so those ends were compatible with working. After all, we weren’t spending every waking hour together.

Now let’s get to why I was distressed.

I didn’t take even one full day off.

Ok, two days I only logged 15 minutes of work, but still. A girl needs a break, and I did feel a little stressed the whole time that I wasn’t getting enough done. I’m not saying this would have been better if I’d totally disconnected, but I shouldn’t feel like I need to sabotage my computer to take a whole day off.

What I’m saying is that sometimes I want to sabotage my computer. Maybe by pouring some water on it. Or just tipping it off my desk. You know, by accident. That’s normal, right? Rule two of a working vacation:

Cut yourself more slack.

I can be pretty hard on myself, and when you’re a one-woman development company, you kind of have to be. I had to remind myself daily to take it easy. “You’re on vacation,” I’d tell myself. “Quit checking your email,” I’d think. “Seriously put your damn computer down,” I’d internally yell at myself, completely undermining the entire idea of cutting myself slack.

Well, maybe you’ll have better luck.

Tell everyone you’ll be out of the office.

Two weeks before I left, I wrote all my clients (even the ones whose projects are completed) to let them know that I’d be out. Then, I totally subverted myself by letting people know on an individual basis that I’d still be answering emails and getting work out. Don’t be like me. Tell everyone you’ll be out, and stick to it. You deserve it.

So tomorrow I’m back to the grind, but not really because I’ve been in the grind. I think I’ll take Saturday totally off and go to the beach.

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