Lessons From An "Almost" Vacation

I’ve never met an entrepreneur who felt their business was on autopilot. 

Yes, I’ve certainly seen business owners tout the whole six-figure passive income game. But we all know passive income isn’t all that passive. 

When there’s always so much to be done it can be really hard to take a break.

 
how to work at the beach
 

As a person who lives and dies by my to-do list—it keeps me productive but also reminds me of all that’s left to be done—I rarely take time off. 

It’s not so much I’m afraid things will fall apart if I’m not present. Actually, it’s more that when I schedule vacation in my calendar I expect to have more creative time because I don’t have any other scheduled obligations. 

Plus when you’re building a business—or pivoting like I’m doing—intentionally stopping the momentum you have going feels impossible. 

Well, this summer taught me a hard lesson. 

In this season of life I cannot expect to get anything done when I’m on vacation. 

I have two young kids that need their mom. 

And I have a business that needs its owner. 

These things work against each other and if I’m not careful, can push me into a resentful tailspin.

Here are four things I’ve learned that all entrepreneurs should know about working, resting, and setting realistic priorities:

EXPECT IT TO TAKE A FEW DAYS TO BE IN VACATION MODE

Working for yourself means being self-directed, filling days with productivity, and balancing dozens of responsibilities. 

Shifting from this mode to one of simply being takes time. I've found it takes me about 2-3 days to adjust to a new schedule—one of play and rest. Now that I know that about myself I don't feel guilty that I can't dive right in; I just plan my vacations for 5 days or longer.

YOU CAN ONLY FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME

I’m no good if I’m physically present and mentally absent. I’m guessing you’re the same. 

And if you think you’re kidding anyone around you, you’re not. Trying to work while everyone else is playing will make you resentful. If you really must get something done, make a point to physically remove yourself from the environment you’re in so you can focus, get in, and get out.

IF YOU'VE GOT A TO-DO LIST, YOU'RE NOT RELAXING

I had a post-it note list of 11 things I wanted to get done over my recent 10 days away. First of all, that’s way too many things. Second, I was stressing about my lack of progress the whole time we were at the beach. 

If you must, give yourself one thing to do and finish that early on so you can enjoy yourself the rest of the time.

EXPECTATIONS AFFECT MINDSET

We all need to recharge. There’s even research that proves our best ideas come to us when we’re not actively trying to push them out. 

You can’t expect to be productive and to relax at the same time. These are opposing forces and there’s a time for both. And sitting inside hunched over your computer, even while looking out at the ocean, is not the same as being on the beach itself. 

Have you ever had a working vacation? How was it and what would you change?