I (Andrea) am hitting the road this week!
This Friday, all over the country hundreds of 4th through 8th graders who have fought their way through their school chums and an online test have won the chance to compete in their State Geography Bee.
This is no small feat. This isn’t a “What’s the Capital of California?” type of contest. These questions are HARD. These kids know more than you, me, Congress, and half the country put together.
And, it’s a mom brag moment, my son is competing for the state title and a chance to make it to the National Geo Bee in Washington DC.
It’s all cool, and exciting, and I get to brag about my son. But I really wanted to talk about this because of how hard all of these kids have worked to make it to Friday’s competition. (And those that go on to the National level!) They want to win. And they are willing to work hard at it. They study maps. They take quiz after quiz after quiz. They use flash cards, charts, atlases. They live and breathe geography.
We need to be more like these kids. Don’t we want to “win,” too? Whatever our prize happens to be - being debt free, owning a business, working from home, buying your first home - we have all of these prizes that we want, but are we really doing much to achieve them? Sure, we’re thinking about them, but thinking does nothing. We need to take action. (Or, “Get Action” a la Teddy Roosevelt.)
We need to study, and we need to put in the effort to Bee awesome and win the competitions we’ve set in front of ourselves. We can do it!
So, get out there, get moving, get working every single moment on your prize. That’s the only way you’re going to win. It just won’t happen because you want it to.
You’ve finally decided (or perhaps your doctor has told you to take a break!) that’s it’s time to get away. It’s time to not think about your business and your office and your clients. It’s time to not check your email. It’s time to not answer the phone. It’s time to enjoy some of the fruits of your labor!
How do you leave? Won’t everything fall apart without you? How does the business keep on going?
When I first started with Your Gal Friday, I worked, and worked. I did whatever I could, as much as I could, any time I could. There were no breaks. (Unless you count sleeping as a break!) One day my husband and I decided our son was old enough to start travelling, so we could start taking vacation.
For him it was easy. Put in the time off on the calendar. Voila. He didn’t have to think about it. But for me? I was the owner of a business. And a worker. I was doing a ton of stuff. I had a team - but...how could I leave my business in their hands?
The first time I left for vacation, I must have checked all of my emails a million times. We’d be driving in the car and I was answering questions. I was still working. The second time, about 100,000. Last year, I’m not sure. Maybe once. Just to say hi. :)
It was all very terrifying. But I needed to go. For my own well-being. I needed to vacate. And you do, too. So here are four tips you MUST do when planning a vacation.
BEFORE YOU GO
Inform Your Clients
Once you know the dates of your vacation, send an email out to all of your clients letting them know when you’ll be gone. I recommend doing this a couple of months beforehand. And then one month before you leave. And then a couple of days before you leave.
Let Your Clients Know the Plan
It’s great to let them know you’re going to be out of the office, but that’s not good enough. You need to make them understand that they are still going to be cared for while you’re gone. What I typically say is something like this:
While I’m out, all regular weekly work will continue to be done by the team. If you have any emergency work, please email X (whomever is in charge) and she’ll be happy to help as she is going to be “me” for the week I’m out. :)
This tells them that they’re not going to be alone. They have a point of contact while you’re out. All is well.
Train Your Team
If your team already does all the same things you do - great. You’re ahead of the game. But, if you do some exclusive work for a client, you’re going to need to train someone to do that work while you’re gone. Start early. Start slowly. Do not dump three years worth of knowledge on someone the day before you leave.
You might not be able to train them in everything, so pick key tasks. And, the week before you leave, have them do all of them. Why? Because you’re there. You can supervise. You can answer questions. And they don’t feel overwhelmed and left adrift in a sea of confusing work.
BUT I DON’T HAVE A TEAM. IT’S JUST ME.
That’s okay. You’ll still do the first two steps. You’ll still inform your clients. You’ll still give them a plan of attack. But that plan will be different. You’re going to tell them that they need to have any requests in to you by a certain date prior to vacation, because you’re going to accelerate your work schedule. You are going to power through possibly doing twice as much work in half the time. But this just means you’ll be ahead for your clients and you can leave without having anything left in your To Do pile.
An alternative to slamming yourself is to ask a fellow freelancer/entrepreneur to help while you’re away. You have to be confident in your relationship with that person. You can’t feel like they’re going to steal your business. (Oh, she makes better cupcakes than me. I can’t give my clients her contact info!) Look, chances are, your clients aren’t going to have any requests while you’re gone. Because you told them you were leaving, so they aren’t going to want to contact you. So relax!
AFTER YOU GO
Leave everything behind. Leave your desk behind. Leave your email behind. Leave your phone behind. Leave your cupcakes, your cleaning supplies, your spreadsheets, your blogs, your everything. BEHIND. The whole idea of vacation is to VACATE. Why the hell are you bringing your work with you?
The first time won’t be easy. I remember the first time I left Frankie in charge. It was frazzling. Because YGF is my baby. And how DARE I leave my baby alone with someone who isn’t me? But you know what? It turns out Frankie was a damn good mother to YGF. It didn’t burn down. My clients didn’t leave. I didn’t get hate mail. Everything moved along well. Just as it should. Trust that the people you work with actually do good work. (After all, YOU hired them. Is your judgement bad?) :)
When I leave for vacations now, I say, text me if you need me, but I probably won’t have phone service. And that’s that. I don’t do anything with my electronic devices except take pictures for Facebook and play games in the car.
So, go. Take a vacation. You’ll enjoy yourself. You’ll feel better, and then you’ll come back and be better for your business and your clients.
I really didn't. I (Frankie) didn't write anything for today's post. I'm kind of sorry, but I'm kind of not. I had to take Tuesday off because I was down with the sickness. When you work from home or for yourself, taking a day off is kind of a big deal. Andrea talked a little about it yesterday in her #tipoftheday and she's going to talk more about it tomorrow, but today I just want to say that when you work from home or for yourself and you have to take an unplanned day off, it really messes things up.
I came "back" to work yesterday and was totally slammed. I didn't have time to think, much less write a post for today. I still didn't feel 100% either so I was moving slower than normal. My house is a mess, laundry needs to be done, I had to work out and fix supper. It was just too much. So, today I'm still behind on work and housework and I have everything that is due today piled on the same plate as yesterday's work. Whew!
I didn't want to shirk my Coffee Talk responsibilities completely though, so I did hop on to write a little something. I also wanted to tell you guys to make sure you read Andrea's post tomorrow on how you take a vacation (or day off) when you work from home.
I know sometimes things are unexpected and you can't plan for them, but maybe she'll put some tips in on how you do things on a daily basis to plan for unplanned days off…or maybe that will be my next blog. Either way, I'll be reading her vacation planning blog tomorrow and taking notes. I hope you do too.
I guess I better get to work now so I can try to catch things up before the weekend.
Drop us a comment to let us know how you plan for unplanned days off.
We talk a lot about having quiet time. Taking breaks. Getting fresh air. These are all important whether you’re working from home or you go to a business to work. I (Andrea) think it’s even more important when you work from home to have these little breaks because you tend to be lazier at home and you’re more comfortable, so you don’t think you need them.
Short breaks are great, but what about vacation? You need vacation. You need to vacate. Frankie has talked about this a lot - how, when you’re working from home, it’s difficult to separate work life from home life. You always feel like you’re working because you’re always at your office.
You need to take a vacation. Leave. For a few days. I know it’s hard, and maybe it’s not affordable - but it is. Sure, you may not be able to take a European Viking Cruise, but you have to give yourself the luxury of some kind of vacation. You have to leave your office for a few days. Grab a tent and stay a campground. (Oh, yes. I hear all the grumblings of - ewww, camping! To that I say, Camping Rules!) :)
But camping is a fun and affordable way to take a vacation. When my husband and I were just poor 20-somethings (I think we both had $8/hr jobs), we took a two-week vacation, camping across the country. And if we afforded that when we lived in a tiny apartment with 40+ year old furniture, then you can afford a few days away. It’s going to make you feel great!
On Friday, I’m going to talk about how you take a vacation when you work from home. Because it’s not the same as if you’re in an office. There are steps you need to take to ensure that you’ll have a great vacation and will come back to “a good place.”
I (Frankie) didn't write my posts for the week over the weekend like I normally do. It was a very busy weekend and I just didn’t do it. I was going to write them yesterday, but yesterday turned out to be crazy busy too. I was going to write at least this one last night and guess what? I got sick! Well played universe, well played.
I have a pile of work to do, but since I do have the advantage of working from home here's what I'm going to do. My health really does matter so I'm going to take some medicine and go to my couch. I'm not going to work out today and I'm not going to work unless I really feel like it and I can do it from the couch. I'm going to take care of me and hopefully feel much better tomorrow.
Leave us a comment and let us know what you do when you're sick. Do you push through, or do you stop and take care of you?
I wish you all health and happiness on this second day of spring.
Frankie and Andrea take turns sharing stories. Just good talk over a cup of coffee.