In the Trenches: A Test Vacation
September isn’t very far away. Although it may not matter to you, that’s when I’m scheduled to be sitting on a beach drinking fruity cocktails for a week — and I’d like to be able to enjoy that time instead of constantly thinking about my business from afar. So, I’ve been working with my employees to prepare for my absence.
Recently, we did a “test vacation.” Unfortunately, I didn’t actually get to go anywhere. I was supposed to attend a one-day event down in Mexico, but conflicts scuttled my plan. Then I realized that I didn’t have to actually leave town to take a break: I could just pretend to be away.
So, I asked my travel architect and my new office chief (formerly intern) to work together to see how the business would run if I went off the grid. Of course, I didn’t really disappear: I told them to call me with any problems or questions that needed to be dealt with immediately. If I can go on vacation knowing that any urgent matters will be brought to my attention via phone, then I can stop worrying and just enjoy myself. I don’t mind a couple of calls a day. (And I’m sure I’ll check my email at least once a day, too.)
During my test vacation, I hung out with my son, took the dogs for a long walk, etc. It was like a weekend day for me.
How did it go for my employees? It went perfectly. And I don’t mean that in an operational sense. There were some hiccups: My out-of-office reply didn’t work correctly. A last-minute urgent request sent my staffers scrambling. And they had some minor questions. But that’s exactly why I wanted to do a test now. We can look at what worked and what didn’t, and then we can make adjustments for the next time.
In fact, I liked this plan so much that I’m going to start having days like these every couple of weeks. No, I’m not going to start working less, but if I can remove myself from the day-to-day stuff a couple of times a month, I can use those days to focus on future strategic planning.
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.