7 Tips for Working Less When You’re on Vacation


Make your next vacation better by working less.

No one wants to work during vacation. It’s no fun, and family time suffers. Taking restful breaks from work is healthy and makes us more productive in the long run. But sometimes, we have no choice. Small business owners, new employees, commissioned salespeople, and workers in certain professions often need to work a little while they’re on vacation. Here are some tips to minimize how much you work when you play.

1. Think Ahead.

Define exactly what you NEED to do during your vacation. Set firm boundaries with yourself so you only do what you have to. Enlist teammates to cover your responsibilities until you get back. (Just be willing to cover your teammates when they go on vacation.)

2. Make Your Work as Accessible as Possible.

Will you have wifi and data everywhere? If not, store projects locally on your devices so you can avoid searching for a coffee shop or getting stuck at the resort. Also, see if your favorite desktop apps have mobile versions. Your smartphone is always with you, it’s already on, and it’s less intrusive than a laptop.

3. Tell People You’re Going on Vacation.

When coworkers and clients know that you’re going offline, then they’re less likely to contact you. Setting up an email out-of-office auto-reply message is a good step, but take it one farther. Tell stakeholders a few days before you leave. That way you uncover any urgent projects before you get on the plane.

4. Batch Your Email.

Monitoring a steady stream of email notifications is distracting. Instead, turn off notifications for your work email, and check your inbox intermittently during unobtrusive moments. It’s not a bad idea to keep those notifications off when you’re back in the office trying to focus.

5. Don’t Waste the Margin.

If you’ve followed step two, then you’ve stored important items in the cloud or on your mobile devices. That means that you can push a project forward while you’re waiting for a table, a ferry, or a dune buggy. When it’s your turn, then you have that much less work to worry about.

6. Choose Your Time Wisely.

Relegate your heaviest work to the least important moments. Wait until the kids are napping or watching a movie. Wait until your spouse is getting a massage or loading the car. Miss activities that matter less so you can make the memories that matter most.

Miss activities that matter less so you can make the memories that matter most.

7. Be Realistic About Requirements.

Sometimes the pressure we feel to work during vacation or the holidays isn’t real. We put that pressure on ourselves. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that would happen if I don’t finish this?” Making any progress at all is often sufficient. Don’t be afraid to stop working when it’s time to enjoy your vacation. You’ve earned it.

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