Updated: Dec 5, 2018
In my first 10 months of business (where did the time go?!), I've had the opportunity to travel more than expected. The freedom to say "yes" to last minute plans and weekend getaways is a perk of owning your own business and one that I will always take advantage of.
I'm sure there will come a day when I feel like I can go on a trip and completely shut off. With my business having not even celebrated one year, now is not the time. Looking at it from the outside in, that might seem like a real pain in the butt or a burden. I remember feeling that way too as we headed off on our first camping trip this year. I feel very different now that I've experienced it.
While my travels this year have all been very different (trailer in the bush vs. Las Vegas) I've had to figure out the best way to get things done while traveling through my own trial and error. It requires small sacrifices and maybe you'll all think I'm a workaholic after reading this but below are a few tips and ideas that have gotten me through:
1. Office "doors" shut at 5PM
Much like at home, it's important to draw that line between work and play. Spoiler alert: I still work on client projects if I have the opportunity in the evening but I schedule emails and phone calls for regular office hours to keep that line clear. You won't be getting an email from me after 5PM whether I'm sitting in my office or on vacation.
2. Apple Watch
This tip is a little spendy but I've found it to be worth it. Previously I would just have the volume on my phone full blast and take it out of my purse every 5 minutes to make sure I hadn't missed anything. With my watch, it just does a quick little pulse against my wrist when a text, email or phone call comes in. It makes me feel less attached to work while still maintaining the level of responsiveness I like. On the flip side, you are constantly connected. I tend to take my watch off in the evenings to more easily ignore things!
3. Who needs to know?
I've found that I don't need to inform everyone I'm going on vacation. Of course if you're in the middle of a project and your physical absence will be noticed, inform those clients. Otherwise - it's business as usual. The one exception to this rule was when I spent a few weeks in the Yukon as we were in fairly remote locations and I knew my access to wifi would be interrupted.
I found that when I did put something in my email signature or let people know, they would hold off on projects and even quick little changes they needed as to not bother me. While this is kind, I still want to help my clients and offer the same level of service while I'm not in the office.
4. The power of one hour
I'm not working a solid 8 hours when traveling. It's on and off as things pop up and I schedule work on existing, long term projects. In addition to that, I make sure I have one solid hour of maintenance a day. That means cleaning out my inbox (I'm one of those weirdos who has to be at 0 inbox messages everyday), taking care of invoicing and following up on any proposals/quotes that I've recently sent out. Falling behind on these tasks causes me to stress out (who, me??) so my one hour is really beneficial. Make sure you're able to be fully immersed for this hour - turn the TV off, kick your spouse out of the room. Whatever it takes.
5. Choose your travel companions
I have been on trips with my mom, my best friend and my husband this year. These people are my biggest fans. They give me the time I need, occupy themselves and spend copious amounts of time in coffee shops while I catch up. Never have they made me feel guilty and that's key. They obviously know what's going on but if you're traveling with a new group of friends, you might want to add a disclaimer that you're still working and might need to sneak away from time to time.
I'm curious to know if you have any tips for working while traveling! Feel free to shoot me a message or comment below.