I'm leaving for California this week - my one and only trip of the summer. After my horribly too-soon vacation in March of this year, I have been rolling towards this planned vacation with an acute awareness of how I'm going to A) Enjoy this trip and B) Not simultaneously run my growing business into the ground.
1. Take the laptop but only use it while sitting in airports.
2. Don't respond to every email. Let my out of office response handle it.
3. Prep my clients before I leave and set realistic expectations. "I won't be responding to email, but call if there is an emergency. Also, this is what constitutes an emergency..."
4. Check in with clients before I leave and upon my return - even if I haven't heard from them. Let them know they're still at the top of my priority list.
5. Give myself a generous runway both before I leave and when I return (West Coast jet lag is real for me). Push any meetings and 1:1's back so I show up fresh and well rested - not cranky and tired.
It's hard for me to unplug from my business. I'm constantly on my phone if I'm not in front of my laptop. If it's between the hours of 9AM - 6PM Monday through Friday, I'm on call and there is no one else to handle it but me. Not respecting the boundaries I set for myself slammed me into a wall earlier this month. The point of me getting away is to recharge and re-energize so I keep moving forward without constantly burning out.
I know plenty of entrepreneurs who will not understand this need for boundaries (I'm dating one of them), but I hope it's a reminder to most that no matter what your job is - whether you work for yourself or for someone else - a break is a good thing. It's that old adage of, "We're not performing brain surgery here. No one is going to die." I know it feels like our jobs define who we are, but it's really the other way around.
Perhaps all this talk of boundaries is from growing up with a father who worked 90 hours a week, traveling the country and often brought his suitcase and laptop to our family beach vacation every summer. It was the one week a year we saw dad for more than a couple days in a row, and yet he was still in work mode.
"Where's dad?" we might ask, "On a conference call," my mom would grit through her teeth. And this during the 90's when you were tethered to dial-up internet. So he was cooped up in the shady condo while we relaxed on the sand - my dad of all of us needing the break.
If people trust you and you are good at what you do - they'll wait a few days for you to get back (As long as you're not a brain surgeon). Promise.