At the time of writing, there aren’t many foreign vacations or flights on offer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, by next summer, everything will be up and running as normal again. So let’s look at working vacations.
Why Take a Vacation?
If you are self-employed, it can be very difficult to make time to take a time-out. Jordan Peterson once said that having responsibility gives your life meaning. For a lot of people, they see their primary responsibility as their career and everything else fits into place around work. However, if you have family, then things do tend to change and your family tend to become your primary responsibility. With this in mind, your health also becomes a priority. Higher stress levels and less-than-optimum amounts of sleep increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, complications with cardiovascular health and digestive problems. What’s more, if you don’t find an effective way to balance work and life, you may become more irritable.
Creativity is also enhanced when you take a break from your normal routine. Instead of thinking about your daily job and your routine tasks, you give your mind ‘room’ to contemplate different aspects of the business and to think about how you could optimise or streamline your daily routine. Creativity is key to some businesses – what made Telsa and Einstein geniuses, wasn’t their ability with maths & physics but their ability to run ‘thought-experiments’ and come up with ideas. Edison who was a phenomenal businessman used to take naps on a regular basis to help come up with ideas.
Let Clients Know
For self-employed people, who deal directly with clients – it’s always a good idea to let them know. This shouldn’t come across as a passive-aggressive way of saying “don’t contact me”, instead your clients should see this as a courteous way of keeping them up to date and informed. Clients expect you to go on vacation and to have a life outside of work. They will probably go on vacation themselves and even former UK Prime Minister David Cameron even said: “everyone needs a holiday”.
Let clients know if you are going to be available at all whilst you are on vacation. For example, tell them if you will be taking calls and emails. I good compromise is to check emails just once in the morning for any emergencies and to forward on any emails to relevant members of staff.
If you are going to take calls whilst you are away, remember to factor-in the timezone for any scheduled calls.
Schedule Your Marketing
When you are on vacation, you can still schedule things like social media, so that your marketing activities don’t suddenly come to a halt. Tools such as SproutSocial and Buffer are great for doing this. You can also schedule your blog posts, this is quite easy to do if your blog platform is WordPress. It’s just a case of hitting “Publish” in the WordPress admin area and then choosing a date from the drop-down menu that appears when you clear the arrow next to “Immediately”. Equally, using tools such as Mailchimp for your email marketing will enable you to schedule your marketing efforts whilst you are away.
Use a Phone Answering Service
If you are constantly answering the phone on your vacation, it won’t feel like you’re on vacation! Continuity of business is very important, so you may feel obliged to answer calls even though you are supposed to be taking a break. With this in mind, using a phone answering service can be especially helpful if you are self-employed as a sole-trader (i.e. you have no employees). Phone answering services such as Moneypenny and Alltel can reduce stress whilst your on vacation by intercepting any calls to your work or mobile numbers. Providing a dedicated virtual receptionist means that your assigned PA will have a certain level of knowledge in regards to your business and will appear to callers, exactly the same as a permanent employee would. For a higher monthly cost, you can also sign up for 24/7 receptionist cover. This is a great service when it comes to work/life balance because you can enjoy quality time at home, without having to answer your business calls. You can normally update your ‘status’ on a mobile phone app, to state whether or not you are available for calls. When you are at home you can instruct your receptionist to take a message and to only disturb you, in case of an emergency.
From a personal perspective, a phone answering service can help you to enjoy quality time with the family during vacation and evening and weekends. From a business perspective, it can also provide a superior level of customer service and help you to capture sales leads around the clock. Phone calls are still the superior format when it comes to sales leads and a missed call can often lead to potential clients using a competitor.
Consider Taking a Hard-Drive or Flash Drive
If you are happy to work whilst you are travelling or thinking of taking up the digital nomad lifestyle, then investing in a hard-drive or flash drive that you are happy to take with you can be a good idea. Obviously, you should be able to upload files to cloud storage, but if you are going somewhere remote, that does not have reliable internet access, then having important files on a drive can be helpful. Moreover, if you are doing specific types of work such as video editing, this can be a huge pain to try and upload and download large files to the cloud.
Use a Cloud Service
Dropbox and Google Drive are great free services, whilst Backblaze is a great cloud service that will automatically backup your computer’s files. Most typical U.S. vacation locations will have high-speed internet and for most workers, using a cloud service will prove more convenient than taking an additional hard-drive. Just make sure everything is uploaded before you leave the office!
Whatever you decide to do, in regards to work – make sure you have a good time! If you are going to be taking on significant amounts of work whilst you are away, consider scheduling all your evening activities so that you can more impulsively get up and go once your work is completed.