Switch from work-mode to vacation-mode (and back) without stressing about your business!

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Okay, it’s decided: you’re going on vacation. (Yay! I want a postcard.) As your departure date nears, follow these tips to minimize your stress level.

Don’t forget my favorite vacation secret to success – give yourself a one-day buffer from the work world on either end of your vacation.

T-Minus Two Weeks:

Write an extra blog post and prepare and create a schedule for your tweets, Facebook updates, and other social media marketing. If you’ll have to manually post them, create calendar reminders so you don’t forget while on vacation.

Vacation Survival Tip: If you’re not going to be accessible at all and you’re really worried a client is going to need something simple (like a file resent in a different format or a date changed on a poster) partner with a trusted peer to handle such a request.

  • Be prepared to pay them
  • Discuss the extent they may be “working” on the project
  • Set a reminder to send them the latest files early in the day on T-Minus Two Days before vacation so they have a chance to request anything additional you may have forgotten.

T-Minus One Week:

Remind your clients about the details of your vacation – when you’re leaving, how long you’ll be gone, when you’ll return, and how to contact you (if at all) while you’re out of town.

  • Vacation Survival Tip: Let your clients know up front that any unplanned time-sensitive or urgent needs will be billed at a higher rate. Make it expensive enough that they won’t ask unless it truly is urgent.
  • GDB Reader, Bree’s (Awesome) Vacation Survival Tip: Create “to-do” lists for your clients with active projects to be completed before your return. Ask questions regarding design, implementation, and suggestions. When you get back, you know exactly what stage each project is in and where you’re headed.

Record an extended away message for your business phone.

  • Be careful about the details if your business phone is also your personal phone lest you let the entire world precisely when your house will be empty.

Similarly, create an auto-response email.

Organize any current project digital files that have gotten out of hand. Rename difficult to decipher files. Promise yourself that over the next week, you’re going to be awesome at keeping things organized.

Clean your office well. Dust. Vacuum. Empty your garbage and recycling bins. File stacks of paper.

I know what you’re thinking right now: “I’ve got ALL WEEK to do this stuff. Sheesh.” Trust me; you’ll be far too busy. You’ll thank me later.

T-Minus Two Days:

This is your last day of work before vacation. (Excited yet?)

  • Wrap up any projects you promised to have out prior to leaving. If you’re going to miss your deadline (bad idea), contact your client and renegotiate a new one. Give them time to confer amongst themselves and get back to you that day.
  • Tidy up your office. After your deep clean one week ago, this should only be a fraction of the time, and returning to a nice, clean desk is so much more appealing!
  • You may want to stop your mail, especially if you’re expecting money to be rolling in while you’re away.
  • At the end of the day, activate your phone and email away messages. This way, in the morning on your last day before vacation (when everyone thinks you’re already on vacation), you’re not tempted to work because someone sent you a last-minute email.

T-Minus One Day:

What? April, you said no work on this day!

You’re right GDB readers, today is for packing, accumulating your traveling documents, cleaning house, and in general stressing about the personal aspects of leaving, not the business ones!

However, if you’re going to take work with you, today is the day to pack it. Since you’re not working today…wait, let me repeat that. Since you’re not working today (and you organized last week), you’re sure to have all of the latest files easily identifiable and transferable to your mobile workstation.

Vacation Survival Tip: In my experience, you’ll actually work no more than half of the hours you expect to on vacation. The one-day buffer upon your return will give you a nice long day to scramble and catch up on all the work you were supposed to do on vacation.

While on Vacation:

If you’re checking your email or phone periodically and something needs your attention, respond to the client to let them know you’re aware of the situation, what you’re doing to handle it, and when they should expect an update.

FINAL Vacation Survival Tip: Worrying isn’t going to make vacation any better or solve any business problems. Relax. Have fun. You’ll have plenty of time to worry when you return.

There you have it, GDB readers. Your easy guide to stress-free vacation-mode. Have you employed any of these tips? Do you have some of your own to share? Leave a comment on this post!

Now go on! Get out from behind your desk and enjoy!

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About April Greer

April is a go-to freelance designer with a rare combination of creative expertise and technical savvy. She is available for subcontracting and speaking engagements – visit Greer Genius for more information.

Comments

  1. Great post (but then, you know I’ve been waiting for it!)

    I think I’ve had a ‘der Fred’ moment on letting clients know I’ll be away, even for short periods like a long weekend. I already have a couple of people I rely on to help me out with work and we use dropbox – all work files are stored online so that way you’re never missing that vital linked file and you always have the most recent version to hand, very useful!

    I guess the only thing I’ve now got to work out is how to have email monitored in a way that protects privacy, but means my helper can see work needs doing even if I’m not able to get reception myself…any suggestions?

    • Cheli,

      Glad to help answer your questions!

      As far as getting only the correct information to your helper, you can either “introduce” your client to your helper beforehand via an email or three-way phone conversation and instruct the client to contact the helper, or instruct your clients to use a specific subject line for the email so that you can forward those specific emails to your helper.

      Example subject lines: Turtle Poster Change or XYZ Company Brochure Edits. Explain to your client beforehand that this specific subject line must be exactly this, otherwise you will not be checking the email until your return. Then they don’t need to know the helper exists.

      Good luck on your next vacation!

  2. Now I really want to go on a vacation!!!!

    Great tips, and I couldn’t agree more about taking an extra day between getting back from the vacation and starting work again. The old, a vacation from the vacation cliche.

    My personal social media philosophy would say you shouldn’t pre-write/schedule tweets and Facebook updates. I’m not a fan of automated/non-personal social communication. I think social media is about personal contact with your customers/clients. I would either post vacation related updates (still keeping it professional, no Instagram’s of doing tequila shooters off a stripper’s belly). Or make it a full vacation and not post anything at all until I get back.

    • JasonG:

      I agree that social media shouldn’t be canned. You should have a marketing/social media plan, however, so in general you probably know what you’re going to say next week (barring big news). Also, since a lot of vacations hover around holidays, it’s easy to schedule holiday-themed social media for when you’ll be absent. I like your idea about posting professional vacation-related updates, too.

      If you don’t feel comfortable with pre-planning, at the very least let your social media networks know you’ll be on vacation from posting so that you don’t just drop off the face of the earth.

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. But, you are upstairs working on a website during your vacation!!!!!

    • True that, Mom, but I’m not super-stressed about it. And I planned a working vacation, so all the work I’m doing was expected. :)

      Someone sounds a bit jealous!!! Hee hee.

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