Just a few weeks ago I was sampling barrel-aged scotch whiskey in Oban, Scotland. The smoky flavor of the scotch was sweetened by the fact that I was there with my wife and three sons. We spent almost three weeks exploring historic landmarks, climbing a lot of castles, and enjoying the Scottish lochs.
I also worked on 10 blog posts, met five times with our team, answered hundreds of emails, and even interviewed a candidate during my trip. My work as the CEO of Aha! did not stop simply because I was traveling.
I have a number of passions and family, work, and travel are a few of them. I look for ways to find sustainable happiness with all three -- even on vacation. I am not the only one. A recent survey by British Airways found that full-time workers spent at least half an hour working each day while on vacation. (On my trip, I spent more like two to three hours.)
I know that for many people it is not possible (or desirable) to completely unplug on a vacation. So, how do you check in with work -- without annoying your travel companions?
Here are six ways that high-performing people work on vacation without ruining the trip:
Communicate to both family and colleagues how work will fit into your vacation time. Be really clear with both groups about when you will need to work and for how long. Setting expectations upfront will help to avoid frustrations later on.
Name a stand-in
Since you will not be available 24/7, identify colleagues who can stand in for you and answer questions if they come up. Give others opportunities to do work that might have been handled by you. This way, you help grow the skills of the team and will not be a bottleneck for certain work that can (and should) move forward without you.
Put the phone down
Unless it is to snap a photo. Do not check your work email on your phone -- wait for your established work time. If someone urgently needs you, they will reach out via text or call.
Find a private place
When you are working you don't want to be interrupted. You need to be efficient. Find a quiet space where you can work. Make the most of your time by linking to-dos to distinctive cues. This will help you to remember tasks and get them done quickly.
While I was in Scotland, I was trying to video conference with a candidate. A heavy thunderstorm rolled through and disrupted the internet service at the old hunting lodge on the Isle of Skye where we were staying. I sent a text to a colleague who contacted the candidate and we rescheduled. (And I am happy to report that he is joining the team.)
Share the love
Just as you will share photos of your getaway with your colleagues, share what you are working on with your family. When they see how excited and passionate you are about your work, they will be more likely to respect your space when you need to check in.
Checking in with work while vacationing may actually make it easier for you to fully relax. It does for me -- it makes getting back and getting going again seamless. Staying connected and remaining productive gives you peace of mind.
If you can set expectations, it is possible to work during your vacation and still have a great time.