This past week I took my first official vacation as a self-employed person. I brought my client folders. I brought my laptop. I brought my laptop charger. I told my clients I would available by phone for emergencies, and would get to my emails as I was able. I switched on my "out of office" and thought I was smooth sailing.
This did not go well.
1) I didn't ask my main contacts to share with their staff that I would only be reachable by phone for emergencies. So, when I got a call way too early one morning from a client's office number, I panicked - thinking it was an emergency. It wasn't. She didn't realize I was on vacation.
2) I didn't account for potential business partners calling me in the afternoon - on a Monday - when I would normally be holding business hours. I wasn't in "business mode." I didn't have my calendar or files in front of me. There may have been the sound of a jazz band playing in the background. But for some reason, I couldn't allow that phone call to go to voicemail. I had to answer it because if I didn't - who else would? And an unanswered call could be a lost opportunity.
3) The beginning of the month is when I sit and take stock of where my finances are and create a game plan for the month. Not getting "back to the office" i.e. home until the 7th day of the month made me feel 7 days behind the curve. That's 7 days of planning I haven't done. That's 7 days worth of meetings I haven't accomplished. Heck, it's almost mid-March and I'm just starting to get my feet back under me.
4) I didn't set aside legitimate "work time" while I was gone. I brought all the materials with me, but I wasn't strict enough with myself (or my travel buddies) about the work I needed to accomplish. My clients were still working - despite my being on vacation - and things needed to still get done. What ended up happening was me coming back home and being frustrated (with myself) and unorganized despite my good intentions of working while I was gone.
It was too soon for me to be gone for 5 days. I was lamenting this with one of my business coaches this afternoon and told her that there is no way I could completely disconnect from email AND my phone and go to, say, Europe, anytime soon. When I stop, the work stops. I know that won't always be the case, but for now, it's the reality.
So it would appear that I have taken my one vacation for the year. Anything more than that will be long weekends to Asheville. And when I am at a brewery, my phone will be going to voicemail - without hesitation.