The weather is getting warmer and it’s school holiday season, which for many means a well earned “break” is coming around the corner. I use the term “break” a little loosely as in our uber connected world it can be difficult to take a complete break from work & truly switch off. In fact for many people it can actually be counter productive to completely ignore what is happening in the office for an extended period as it can take too long to catch up when you return. This has led to the creation of the ‘workcation’ which is meant to provide all of the benefits of taking a holiday while allowing for a little work along the way. In theory, this sounds like it could be the best of both worlds, however in reality it takes a lot of planning and discipline to ensure you are productive while still enjoying some downtime. So what does it take to make a workcation work?
Have A Plan
If your workcation is to have any chance of success, it is really important that you set some form of a schedule which outlines when you are going to work and when you are going to be on holidays. Unlike when you are in the office, this schedule is not designed to maximise the amount you are able to do each day, but it should limit you only to the tasks which are absolutely critical and no more. Having a focused task list can help provide structure to your work time and can also make it easier to switch off completely with some clear headspace (and a clear conscience) once all the tasks have been completed for the day.
Create A Space To Work From
Having a dedicated space to work from while you are on holidays has two main effects: 1. It will help you to be as productive as possible during your work time 2. It ensures work won’t follow you and creep into the rest of your holiday. The benefits of having a dedicated space to work from have been well documented and this is no different for your holiday workspace. Resting your laptop on your knees while you lie on your hotel room bed is not an effective workspace. Make sure your holiday workspace has all of the things you would look for if you weren’t on vacation - natural light, a good internet connection, quiet space to make phone calls etc.
Don’t Let Work Bleed Into Your Whole Day
The whole idea of taking a holiday is to leave work behind - at least to some extent. Whether that means more time with the kids, spending some time working on your golf game or just sitting by the pool, it’s all about doing the things which work normally gets in the way of. With this in mind it is important that you don’t let work creep into your day and take over the vacation part of your workcation. This takes discipline. Little things like not taking work calls all day, only checking emails at certain times & not allowing yourself to constantly think about work can allow you to completely switch off and enjoy the finer things in life.
Set Expectations Before You Leave
Most people appreciate that we all need to take break from time to time and few will begrudge you some downtime when you get a chance to take it. To minimise the chance of being interrupted when you least want to be, set clear expectations of when you will be available with co-workers and clients before you go. Explain to them when you are likely to be available and what they can realistically expect from you in terms of productivity while you are away so they can plan around this. If people know what to expect, more often than not they will try not to disturb you unless it is completely unavoidable - leaving you to get on with your break.
If you’ve ever taken a workcation, do you have another technique which helps you to keep the work machine rolling while still having time to sip cocktails by the pool?