Here’s the truth. All those “When you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like work,” quote graphics on Pinterest straight up lie.
The truth is, work is work whether you love it or not.
I love branding and design and even the boring business-building stuff. But you know what? It still feels like work because it is work.
It is work to wake up before my daughter every morning. It is work to write newsletters and blog posts and Instagram captions. It is work to answer emails and hop on video chats and follow up. And it is definitely work to strategize with clients and design branding graphics.
So, needless to say, I don’t buy into the narrative that tells us the measure of our joy is how long we can spend working. I refuse to believe that my passion is measured by how many hours I spend in front of my computer. And I will shamelessly and fearlessly continue to schedule time off.
I need it. My family needs it. Even my business needs it.
Because I’m making so much more progress now that I’ve come back refreshed.
I hope you’ll be taking time off this summer too! And to help you do so, I’m re-sharing the tips I wrote for taking time off last winter. Because they’re useful again now and because I didn’t sneak any writing in while I was off. Because vacation.
Here’s how to prepare for taking a little vacation:
Decide what kind of vacation you want
In theory, I’m all for unplugging completely and forgetting all about your business while on vacation. In reality, I know I’ll be dying to get back into some things the second week. And I’ll want to be checking my Instagram daily. Rather than setting myself up for guilt trips, I’m intentionally setting some time aside for work.
Figure out how you want to approach your time off. Do you want to completely unplug for your whole vacation or reserve some time for work? Neither is wrong and there’s no need to feel guilty about checking your email while you’re away if it’s what works for you. This is your time off and you get to use it however it works best for you!
Update: This time around, I completely unplugged from Instagram and only checked my email every couple of days. Sometimes you need to unplug more fully and sometimes it’s ok to keep to working. The point is: find what works for you right now.
Start preparing early
Don’t be like me and wait until the week before your vacation to figure out your to-do list. Ok, I didn’t actually procrastinate quite that much. But still, I wish I’d started preparing much sooner. Trip dates have a way of sneaking up on you all of a sudden. If I could do this whole thing over, I would start planning the moment I bought plane tickets.
Get at least a rough to-do list together right away. That way, you can start at least knocking things off it when you have a spare minute. Staring at your screen while you wait for a client to get back to you? Outline one of those blog posts, schedule your out of office message, or set up some Instagram posts. You don’t want to be writing 4 blog posts in the week before your trip. Trust me.
Prepare your Clients
When I took on my current clients, I made sure I was completely upfront about my time off. Right off the bat, I let them know our work together would be on hold while I was out of town and that things would take a little longer than usual because of that. They were both completely fine with that and probably appreciated that I wouldn’t be emailing them on Christmas eve!
Include your time off in your contracts or let your customers know when that your shop is going to be closed. Remind them several times! And let them know exactly how available you’ll be during your vacation, if at all. Don’t want to hear from them at all? Tell them (nicely and professionally)! Being upfront and honest always works best.
Update: This time, I decided to completely free up my schedule by not taking any clients on in all of June. I had plenty of time to prepare and was able to take time off completely free of worries and deadlines.
Queue up Content
I took a break from blogging back in October, dipped my toes back in November, and really wanted to get things back off the ground in December. So I put Sara Frandina’s writing process to work, gave batching a try, and had 4 posts already scheduled by Monday night.
Consistency is key and keeping up with your content schedule while you’re away is totally doable. Decide how many posts you’re going to need to publish over your vacation, batch your writing process, and make use of that handy scheduling feature. That’s one less thing to worry over or feel guilty about during your vacation!
Make time for personal errands
I gave myself a solid no-nonsense deadline to wrap up all my work and told myself that no matter what, the bulk of my work had to be finished at least 3 days before we left. No crazy last-minute late night blog post writing. No wrapping up client work in the airport. Nope, those last 3 days were set aside for personal errands.
Travel always means a hefty list of to-do’s on the personal side of things. Getting travel size conditioner, finding reasonable airport parking, finally cleaning the messy apartment… Make time for those things, too! They’re just as important and you’ll be so glad you dedicated time where there was nothing else to worry about.
Update: Even though we were staying home and hosting this time, there were still so many darn errands to run. Make sure you schedule this in even if you’re planning a staycation.
Leave plenty of wiggle room
Just like I gave myself a 3-day buffer ahead of my trip, I also scheduled a few days off at the tail end. I know I’m going to get home exhausted, have tons of laundry to do, and miss my family like crazy. The emails and calls and everything can wait just a little bit longer.
For some reason, sitting on a plane is pretty exhausting. Don’t expect yourself to jump back in the moment you get back. Give yourself time to rest, unwind from the airport madness, and get ease back into your patterns. You’ll get back to rocking your business soon, I promise!
All the prep work done ahead of time is worth it! Nothing beats feeling accomplished and relaxed as you start your vacation and knowing you’re headed into a time of real rest and reconnection.