Productivity Tips: Stay Productive When Taking Time Off
The idea of a holiday trip or vacation– while filling most with excitement – can sometimes be a source of stress and near-dread for entrepreneurs and executives. The option to stay productive seems a pipe dream.
It’s like you only have two choices—go off the grid completely and try not to worry about your business the whole time. Or alternatively, warn everyone in advance that you’re going to have to stay connected to work most of the time, likely making your fellow travelers miserable.
There’s no way productivity tips or ideas could solve this dilemma, right? After all, it hardly seems conceivable that you could stay productive and enjoy your trip at the same time?
But does it have to be so cut and dry? Can you stay productive on holiday or vacation?
Yet, with these productivity tips and just a little bit of pre-planning, you can stay productive on holiday or vacation, while still relaxing and having some fun!
Vacay productivity tip 1: Set your limits in advance
First and foremost, make a decision. Does your current work circumstance or situation require that you must work during this holiday or vacation? If so, accept it and plan accordingly. On the other hand, if you can afford – professionally – to take the time off and nothing major will fall apart, then you really owe it to yourself to do it. That’s what work life balance is all about – ensuring that there is harmony in all areas of your life. Sometimes the only way to do that is to push work from your mind for this short period and go have fun!
In either case, just decide. Then, stick to your decision and follow the remainder of the productivity tips to plan accordingly—for whatever choice you make.
Tip 2: Make sure your professional associates know your plans for working or not working while you’re gone
Let those who work with you, for you, or who you work for, know what you’re planning. If you are not going to be working, make sure to work diligently in advance to get all important items squared away. Similarly, if there are things “hanging” that can’t be taken care of before you go, leave good notes and instructions for who will handle those situations in your absence, as well as your expectations.
Likewise, try to anticipate what might arise. Then, let those you’ve put in charge of your duties know how you would want any similar situations handled. Additionally, be sure to tell them if you can or can’t be interrupted in case of something urgent and if so, the best times. (That’s why one of the best productivity tips is to create at least a rough itinerary and leave it with them. That way they know the best times to reach you in case of something that must be relayed or discussed but that can wait until a “downtime” to address with you).
On the other hand, if you do intend to work, a lot of the above still applies. However, make sure they are aware of how much and how often you will be “on the clock.” Also clue them in on your scheduled work blocks and if possible, plan a short 10-15 minute “catch up call” at the start of that period. It’ll help set your mind at ease and make your stretch more productive because you’ll know what – if anything – needs your attention most pressingly.
Tip 3: Make sure family and/or friends who will be vacay-ing with you know your work status for the trip
Whatever you decide about whether you must work on this trip, make sure whoever is tripping with you knows your decision. That way, there is no confusion and no surprises. If you are taking the time fully off, let them know you are IN to all the activities, dinners, and outings. Then, stick to it!
On the other hand, if you do need to stay connected to the office, let them know that as well. Tell them in advance how often you will need to work and what that means for the trip. Is it a few hours every day at night? Or are there conference calls that need to be made during the day? No matter the case, setting expectations up front will relieve a lot of the stress or conflict that could arise. Especially if you plan short adventures or outings for the others during the hours you’ll be working where they will be doing something they will enjoy but won’t necessarily miss you for a few hours.
However, the key to this working is sticking to your schedule. Just as when you’re at home, make sure when you are present and NOT working, you are 100% present. Don’t be looking at your phone, texting on your phone, or talking on your phone with the office. Additionally, make sure you schedule some cool things to do during your time with the group, so that they have wonderful memories of time spent with you on the trip too!
Tip 4: Either way, take advantage of down time “when no one is watching” – or “impacted” might be better to say – to catch up for a few minutes
This last suggestion may seem counter to the productivity tips above, but it’s really not. The main idea of the ones we’ve discussed so far is setting expectations so no one feels shorted on your trip—even yourself! However, if there are times when you find yourself alone – such as during your morning coffee before others are up, at night after everyone else has gone to bed and you are enjoying a drink on the couch or balcony, or even while the family is showering up between excursions or at the end of the day – take a minute or two just to breeze through your messages for anything that might need attention.
If there is something and it just takes a minute or two to answer or deal with, go ahead and take care of it. If it’s more complicated, reply quickly and let them know when you’ll deal with it. Then save it for your work time (if you’re working). Or, if you’re not working, forward it to someone else with a bit of context and then wipe it from your mind. Only if it’s a super emergency should you deal with anything time-intensive. By doing the above, you’ll feel much less stressed during the relaxing times and have less to deal with when you return.
Again, the big key with all these productivity tips is setting expectations and then meeting them. Both for the benefit of those wanting to spend this special time with you and for your own good. Everybody needs a little time away. It usually results in amazingly increased productivity when you return. Furthermore, if you do follow these suggestions and ideas, even your time off can still be productive for your business and knowing that, will allow you to relax even more!