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Traveling With Freedom: A Retrospective on Work Vacations

I’m getting ready to travel overseas.  It’s our annual spring break family trip.  We try to expose our kids to different parts of the country and world and infuse them with different cultures, lifestyles, and traditions. 

As we get closer to these trips, along with the joy and excitement of designing an experience and getting everything ready comes the inevitable worry and angst about missing work.  Are you like me?

My business is ramping up, and I find myself living in a tenuous time of content development, new clients, retreats, new circles and other new ventures.  All great things.

Will I fall behind? Will I lose opportunities?  Will my clients need me?

I find myself making lists, trying to batch work, running long hours, and attempt extreme multi-tasking.  I wake up at night and make notes from my bed. I’m usually completely exhausted before we even leave.

And once I’m on the trip, of course I check emails, respond to requests, and so on. 

And then I remember: this is precious time I’m taking for my family.  We will only have these “spring break” travels for a few more years, and I need to cherish every second of them.  I don't want to be working during this time, or even thinking about work.  I want to soak in my family where they are, make memories and enjoy their company.

So how can I break this cycle of trying to tie up every lose end before I go and working while away? I’ve been trying new things this week to ease this burden:

  • Put it in perspective (Mantra: I’m not in the ICU): I used to work in an ICU, where everything was critical.  I must remind myself I am no longer in that environment, and things can wait.

  • Remember the Why: the precious time with family.  It cannot be replaced and must be cherished.

  • Get it on paper: One of my go-to tools is list-making.  If i can get everything I need to do on paper, I can prioritize, pick away, and get more done.

  • Now, near and far planning: in addition to lists, prioritizing by what needs to be done now, near and far helps me make sure I’m not boiling the ocean for a one-week vacation.

  • Set myself up for re-entry success: I like to create a plan for when I get back: a set of reminders of what matters most, and first-up to-dos.  It’s like a “welcome back” letter to myself!

  • Let everyone know: making sure all my colleagues and clients know that i will be away and coverage plans helps me have peace of mind while I’m away.

  • Finally.... Get real- your business will be fine! I’m not going to Timbuktu for a year. I can recover whatever may arise in my absence and my colleagues have my back.

With all that said, I know it will be a work in progress.  Will I bring my laptop?  Yes, but only in case I get inspired in one of the places we go to write. WilI think about work?  Probably, but hopefully not during times that we are making memories. 

How will you create a playbook that gives you peace and comfort while away?  I can’t wait to hear!

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