Balancing Work and Enjoyment: Strategies for Productive Holiday Travel

The holidays are a time full of family, fun, and travel. Work-life balance is an important thing to focus on during this time. Prioritizing personal time is important, but taking the proper steps leading up to time off during the holiday season will keep your work life running smoothly. In a recent USA Manufacturing hour, host, Pavel Stepanov from VirtuDesk, led a discussion on this topic.



Current Balance


The chat kicked off with participants’ discussing how they currently balance their work responsibilities with enjoying their holidays during the travel season.

Anna Scheller from Capri said, “By preparing for the holiday season in advance! I've been putting short-term systems in place and working ahead bit by bit on my usual tasks so that I can take the time to enjoy the holidays guilt-free and knowing my work isn't suffering for the holiday.

Host Stepanov replied, “Nice tip here, Susannah!

Chris Giglio from Rovere Media said, “My vacations are sacred, no work calls, text, or emails are answered unless it is absolutely essential. Most of the time I'm out of the country anyway and can't be much help. Coming back from a trip is where the hell begins though!

Host, Stepanov replied, “Love that, Chris! Total disconnect from work is a must so you can focus on recharging.

Kirsten Austin from DCSC Inc. said, “Piggybacking off of Chris. Many times I am out there, and I mean out there, where my phone may not even work. I try my best to NOT call into work because I've set myself and team members up for my absence. Sounds silly, but what are we working for anyway?”

Ruby Rusine from Social Success Marketing said, “To ensure a seamless holiday experience, we always plan our trips in advance- notifying our team of our plans and making the necessary arrangements.”

Nigel Packer from Pelatis Online said, “When you love your work, every day is a holiday. Time out to balance your life is the bonus time. We have a beach next to our home and our biggest escape is camping in the more remote areas of the UK. No technology, few people.

Felix P. Nater from Nater Associates said, “When on holiday or vacation we respect our precious time together. However, Clients will know my status and how to get my attention. Routine matters are left as such to manage our time.” 

Host, Stepanov said, “I carefully plan my work schedule in advance to ensure important tasks are completed before my holiday, and I delegate when possible. This allows me to fully enjoy my holidays without work-related stress.”



Some Strategies


The chat then shared strategies that they have found effective for managing work tasks while on holiday.


Rusine said, “Our team has been deploying a scheduling tool to equip us with the necessary means to plan our content and posts ahead of time. We religiously adhere to a content calendar which greatly facilitates our workflow.”


Giglio said, “Making sure your team is prepared for your vacation and ensuring everything is covered for those one or two weeks. I also have everything for work tied to my personal phone so I receive push notifications just in case.”office_planning_women


Host, Stepanov replied, “This is so true. It's so important to leave your team prepared to lessen any concerns you have to take care of during vacation.


Scheller said, “Time-blocked working sessions do a lot for my productivity. I set a timer and only let myself to work on that project until the timer is up for the day: helps me attack it with vigor and accomplish my major time-sensitive tasks before the holiday actually hits!


Host, Stepanov replied, “Cool. We are also doing time-blocks. It helps us focus more on tasks especially if you have set your mind that in an hour or so, they should be finished.


Anna then replied, “Agreed! It makes it so much easier to focus and knock things out.”


Packer said, “Leave all coms at home and detox from it all. If you do not trust your team to keep the ship afloat while you are away for two weeks then you need another team. Your health and sanity deserve the break.”


Host, Stepanov said, “I've found that setting clear boundaries and only checking work emails or messages at specific times each day helps me stay connected without being overwhelmed. Additionally, I prioritize essential tasks and delegate the rest to my team, ensuring a smoother workflow during my holiday.”





Participants then shared if they have ever faced challenges in maintaining a work-life balance during holiday travel and shared some experiences.


Giglio said, “Not yet, I currently have an amazing team that can cover pretty much everything I need them to. Although I'm going to Japan in March and its going to be the longest trip with the biggest time difference I've ever been on so I'm just a little nervous.


Host Stepanov replied, “That's awesome, Chris! You can definitely relax if you know you can rely on them.”


Scheller said, “Absolutely... Because of what we do, it's easy to see every concern of a client's as an emergency. Determining what needs immediate attention vs what can wait is a huge part of our process now, so we don't spend another Christmas eve working in an apartment.”


Rusine said, “Whenever I embark on a trip, the temptation to make sure my tasks have been completed correctly and nothing has been overlooked always arises. This year, during our vacation, I made sure to stay in regular contact with my team, and check-ins every now and then. I frequently consulted our project management tool to ensure all critical assignments were taken care of.”


Austin said, “Yes, unfortunately years back, we had an employee that kind of lost his mind & acted erratically. We were smaller then & did not have middle management in place to rectify the situation. I had to fly back to relieve this person of their duties in a kind way.


Packer said, “My vacation starts at 5:00 pm the day before I travel. It finishes at 9:00am the day I return to work.


Host Stepanov replied, “That's the way to do it.


Packer then replied, “I have naturally prepared my clients and appraised them of the situation. I also give them a lot of work to do for my return. That usually keeps them busy and they do not disturb.


Host, Stepanov said, “I did. On a recent trip, I struggled to disconnect from work because of important matters I needed to attend like project approvals and other business challenges. It led to me feeling distracted and not fully enjoying my vacation. I learned from that experience to add this to the tasks I need to finish before taking a vacation, ensuring I can truly relax and recharge.”



Technology and Tools


Next, the chat discussed some technology or tools they use to stay connected to work while on vacation and how they limit their intrusiveness on their personal time.


Scheller said, “My phone! I have all of my work notifications directed there so if anyone tries to reach me they can, but during the actual holiday I set my phone so I don't get notified except in the hours I've set aside for work.”


Host, Stepanov replied, “Same here! It has everything we need.


Rusine said, “Thankfully, my team is considerate of when I am taking time off and communicates accordingly via the project management tool. They guarantee that no pressing tasks will be assigned during my vacation days, leaving me at ease to relax.”


Scheller replied, “That's wonderful! Sounds like you have a phenomenal team.”


Packer said, “There are many tools available for those who feel the need to stay in touch. Mine are all switched off.


Rusine replied, “You're really disciplined, Nigel. That's a good example for us all.”


Host, Stepanov said, “I use my smartphone and laptop for work while on vacation, but I limit intrusiveness by checking emails and messages only in the morning and late afternoon. I delegate tasks and provide clear instructions to minimize constant communication, ensuring a better work-life balance.”





Participants then discussed some of the ways that they communicate their holiday travel plans and availability to their colleagues or superiors to ensure a smooth workflow.


Packer said, “Planning and communication.”


Rusine said, “As mentioned in our previous answers, we use a project management tool for all communications and task assignments.”


Scheller said, “We address those things in meetings when we discuss official office hours during the holidays, and make game-plans for how to keep things running smoothly and organize workflow around people's out-of-office days. LOTS of communication.


Host, Stepanov replied, “Likewise!


Host, Stepanov said, “As a business owner, I inform my team about my holiday travel plans well in advance. I send them a message outlining my travel dates, the contact person in my absence, and any crucial project updates. I also set up an out-of-office message with my availability and the alternative contact. This proactive communication ensures a smooth workflow, allowing them to plan accordingly and reducing any disruptions during my absence.”





Finally, the chat shared some tips for setting clear boundaries between work and personal time while on holiday.


Rusine said, “I strive to demonstrate to my team the value of taking time away from work for rest. I do this by adhering to holidays, weekends, and other off-hours myself, thereby setting a good example for them. Businesses must prioritize facilitating a healthy equilibrium between…


Giglio said, “I think first you have to figure out what your boundaries are, then once that's done you have to communicate them with your team and ensure that management understands that you won't be available. If there's any issue during the trip it needs to be addressed later.


Scheller said, “My best tip is to utilize the tools you have: make plans as far in advance as you reasonably can and set your work phone to "do not disturb" then have specific times you're going to check-in with work so you don't have a nagging feeling about it.”


Host, Stepanov said, “From today's chat, I believe the keys here are the following:

  • Set Clear Work Hours
  • Delegate and Prioritize
  • Use Out-of-Office Messages
  • Unplug During Leisure Time
  • Communicate Boundaries
  • Keep Work Separate
  • Stay Organized
  • Enjoy Your Time Off





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