Do I even need to say it: rest is important. Taking a break – mentally, physically, emotionally – from work is important. We aren’t machines. We are a whole being, and taking a break to savor the goodness of this world is an essential part of being human! I think that in the world we live in right now, it’s really hard to truly get that rest. Social media is constantly beckoning us, particularly when and where travel is involved. The need to show the world what we’re up to (especially if it could benefit my business!!” -me to myself) is almost too hard to resist. Our phones also give us access to a constant stream of texts and emails, all fighting for our attention. Even if none of these things have anything to do with your work, it’s still exhausting, and we still need a break from it to recharge.
If you are anything like me, true rest can be pretty difficult to achieve. Because I am a small business owner, a lot rides on the decisions I make, which includes when I do and don’t work! Additionally, I love my job! And based on all those things you just read above, there is a lot constantly fighting for my attention (and rightfully so for some of it!). So stepping away entirely to get some rest, for both long and short amounts of time, is really difficult. Difficult, that is, unless I plan properly.
When Evan and I took a one month sabbatical from our jobs to travel across Europe two years ago, we knew that work could easily creep into our day-to-day if we weren’t careful. In fact, it took us a full week just to wind down from the stress of our jobs. We had both experienced 6 months of being overworked and under-rested. I am so thankful that I took the necessary time to plan out every and anything business-related before we left so that I didn’t feel panicked or stressed at all that I was neglecting my business or my clients!
Bottom line: if the purpose of your trip is to rest and take a vacation from work, then you’re probably going to have to do some work to actually make that happen. Luckily for you, I’m sharing some of my favorite strategies for taking a true rest from work so you can recharge!
One Month Out
Yes, this says one month out. I know you think I’m crazy, but trust me. You will be happy you started thinking about it now!
Create a task list.
A full month before you leave for your trip, start a running list of all the things you need to do in the next month (I actually make separate work and personal lists). It doesn’t have to be totally complete at this point, you will likely add things to it as time goes on.
As you look at this list, think about: what can and can’t wait until after my trip? What can I offload to someone else? From here, you can delegate tasks to other people and also divide your list into a “must do” (priority) and a “would like to do” (it can wait) before you leave.
Understand that (at least if you’re like me) your list might be too long to finish before you go. Somehow, my list always doubles in the week before I leave for a trip (LOL). Dividing it up into the “musts” vs. the “would like to’s” will give you less stress and guilt if you don’t end up being able to finish everything. It will also, hopefully, prevent you from pulling an all-nighter the day before you leave!
One Week Out
Make a Social Media Plan
If your business relies on social media, then you will 100% need to make plan for how keep it running without actually having to do the work while you’re gone. Instagram is a huge source of clients for me, so taking an extended break from posting would likely affect my flow of business. I use the app Planoly (year round) for planning out posts, and so when I take a vacation, I simply plan out my posts, captions and hashtags (all can be done within the app) and schedule them for the days I’ll be gone. Planoly is amazing because it will actually post for you (if you want it to). Personally, I still do the manually posting each day when I’m on my trip (I’ll get to that later), but the option for auto-posting is amazing! I also love it because you can manage everything from a desktop/laptop computer browser. I can upload photos straight to the Planoly grid and type in captions with a keyboard, which is way faster and easier for me!
I think it’s super important to do this AT LEAST a week in advance, because it takes longer than you would expect to get everything in order. It literally took me almost a full day of work to plan out 15 posts with their captions. 100% worth it, but I am so glad I did it a full week in advance!
Be Proactive About Your Out-of-Office Emails
Maybe you’re planning on putting up an out of office auto-reply while you’re gone. Great idea! An even better idea? Proactively reaching out to your current clients to let them know you’ll be gone. I like to do this 5-7 days before my trip because it gives clients a chance to get the message and then respond if they have anything urgent they want to talk about before you leave. Chances are, you’ll only have one or two people max email you back, but this does allow you to feel less guilty about not responding to emails from clients once you actually leave for your trip because you gave them a full week to reach out! A sample of the email I send:
Hey Client Name!
Wanted to let you know that I will be traveling out of the country with limited access to email from X date until X date to celebrate our four year wedding anniversary! If you have any matters you’d like to discuss before I leave, please feel free to email, text or call me anytime in the next week.
If there is any type of emergency that needs an urgent response while I’m gone, please send a message with URGENT in the subject line, and I will respond within 24 hours. Otherwise, I will get back to you shortly after we return.
Thanks so much! 🙂
I like to give the reason for my trip (in this case, an anniversary celebration) because it is a reminder to clients that I am, in fact, human and am going on a vacation. Everyone can relate to wanting to take time off from work, and your clients will be more understanding about your break if you share what it is you’re doing!
Prepare Important Email Templates
Even with all the preparation to avoid having to email clients during vacation, there are usually still a few emails I need to send. Most importantly: I need to be able to respond to inquiring clients. Since I don’t bring my laptop on most vacations, this can be tricky and time-consuming. That’s where my email templates come in!
Before I leave for my trip, I draft a very specific email response template that I can send to any couples inquiring interesting in hiring me for their wedding. For some people, you might already have an auto-response that gets sent when a client inquires. I respond to each request personally, so having an email template in place makes sending an email super fast and also keeps it super professional! I am a big fan of Honeybook, which I use to manage all my client projects. The Honeybook App is especially useful for travel because I can save email templates here and then send a beautiful, professional-looking email to an inquiring client in a matter of 30 seconds!
The Day Before
Clear Your Inbox Out Entirely
Ah, the elusive “inbox zero.” Maybe the thought of having zero emails in your inbox seems totally far-fetched, or maybe you’ve actually done it before! In general, I have found that maintaining a clear inbox by the end of each week is LIFE-GIVING. However, before a trip, it’s essential!
Firstly, my inbox strategy is not so much to delete emails, but sort them. I have a folder for just about every category you can image (below is literally just a small sample of my inbox). When I am working toward “inbox zero,” I will only sort an email into it’s appropriate folder when I have responded, as needed, to the recipient. As soon as a response has been sent, it goes into a folder. And then I can totally forget about it! If it’s an on-going conversation, then I’ll see the new message pop back into my inbox the next time I receive a response. This helps me get some clear headspace when email and also keeps me on top of important conversations. And, for vacation, I make sure that every. single. email is sorted into one of these folders from my inbox!
Now this is actually something you’ll want to start working towards a week or so out (or longer, if your inbox is nuts). But on the day before you leave, be sure that every email has been answered and sorted!
Now that I’ve shared some ways I prep for a successful rest, here’s what I do to continue that restfulness all throughout the vacation!
While You’re On Vacation
This is essential. You must decide in advance what you will and won’t do for work before you leave, and then follow through while on your trip. Make a plan for when you will check your email (if at all), and make it limited. Make a plan for when (if at all) you will post to social media, and then GET OFF. This might mean deleting apps for the duration of your trip or even leaving a phone back in the hotel room while you’re out relaxing and enjoying.
Evan and I check our email once a day, first thing in the morning. If there is anything urgent, we respond immediately. This is also when I post my planned posts and spend 5 minutes interacting afterwards. After this, email, social media and general phone communication is closed until the next day.
We also (and this is just a general rule, guys!) don’t keep our phones out when we are spending time together – at meals, while exploring, or even relaxing poolside. Actually, we don’t even purchase phone service when we travel out of the country – we literally just rely on hotel wifi because we have on interest in being on our phones while we’re out and about (I cannot recommend this highly enough!). Trust me when I say your phone will not contribute to you getting good rest. You will not be able to focus on enjoying yourself, carefree, if you’re responding to text or scrolling Instagram on your trip.
Shoot Now, Post Later
I’m a photographer, you guys. It’s inevitable that I will have my camera and will be shooting for the shear joy of creating beautiful images. It can be really tempted to share photos immediately – both from your phone and from your camera. While I’m definitely not going to tell you to stop taking photos, I am going to tell you to save the sharing for later!
When we travel, I do like to take advantage of the beautiful scenery as a photo opp for future business use. And while I never let dictate or consume any part of our trip, when it’s convenient, I’ll shoot images that I intend to use later on my website or social media. However, I never live-post. We do sometimes like to share Instagram stories along the way (rather than waiting until we return), so I will post these during that morning time when I am also posting planned posts to Instagram. Otherwise, I don’t let it interfere with my trip!
Ditch the Laptop
Last but not least, do me a favor and do not bring a computer with you on your trip! It’s bulky and inconvenient to pack, among other things, and it will do nothing but hold you back from resting and enjoying your trip to the fullest!
When I travel for weddings, I always bring my computer, because it’s a work trip. But on vacation, I leave the computer at home. Sometimes I’ve been tempted to bring it because I worry what I’ll do on long plane rides. Well, it’s called a book. Also most overseas flights have television and movies.
But what if you want to work on the flight? That’s not vacation yet, right? Wrong! Get yourself in the mindset that when you leave your house, you’re leaving work behind. If you are still working up to the minute you land at your destination, it’s going to be almost impossible to relax. Allow yourself to do something non-productive on the flight (SO hard for me!) and start practicing rest right away!
So are you ready to rest? Are you excited to take a break from work, or does it scare you? Comment below and tell me how your feeling and what you plan to do to make your next trip truly restful!