We were floating along a canal somewhere around Kloosterznde when my dad’s phone beeped.
“Notre Dame on Fire,” the alert from CNN said. The spire had already toppled.
Sixteen year old me standing in the middle of Rome, asking a guard with a machine gun “Where are the street signs?” (missing the fact that they’re actually built into the buildings because when your city is a kabillion years old, that’s what a you do) would be amazed that, in 2019, you can be in the middle of nowhere in the Netherlands and get an alert on your U.S.- based phone.
What this astonishing capability leads to is a much easier time getting around and, for me, the bravery to wander, knowing that if I got lost, I could find my way back even if nobody spoke my language.
What it also leads to is nobody ever getting a REAL vacation, ever.
If your phone’s in your pocket, why not just take a peek at email?
Oh shut UP already, Katie
To use one of my favorite phrases, “Imma beat this dead horse until it is jerky.”
Was April the best time for a horticultural marketing agency owner to go on vacation? Definitely not.
When your mom says, “I want to take you to see the tulips in Holland for your 40th birthday,” the response is definitely, “YES!”
So, in January I began figuring out how to go for 3 weeks without checking my email in the middle of one of my busiest work seasons.
Some things don’t keep
Right after our Netherlands adventure my husband and planned to visit Paris for a few days. The ONLY place he really wanted to see was Notre Dame. (I wanted to see the bookstore across the river.) Missed Notre Dame by a week.
I mean, you’re not going to win everything. You won’t see everything. But this was an in-your-face reminder about how something that seems so sure can (mostly) vanish in an instant, though.
Within the box of Ladurée macarons I bought in Paris there was a note that said, “consume within four days.”
There’s such a propensity among all of us to say, “I’ll do that someday.” “I’ll see that someday.” “I’m saving this.”
Whelp. Someday might never come.
I brought home some chocolates from Belgium and I have to eat them because they will spoil. I can’t hoard the chocolates.
I can’t hoard time.
I also couldn’t really enjoy my breakneck tour through a lot of the Netherlands, Belgium, and the city of Paris if I were stuck on my email and worrying about a client. It took every bit of my brain to handle travel logistics, get some actual sleep, and enjoy myself. I couldn’t spare any of it on my work. I didn’t want to.
Each of us only gets one life. Here’s how I set up my business so I could go on vacation and be on vacation. Hopefully some of these tips help you.
- Hired a really super project manager/ integrator with the time and technological knowledge to help me get where I knew I needed to go.
- Finally set up a personal email and got it loaded onto my phone so I could buy vacation tour tickets without having to access work emails.
- Changed all of my bank account and personal account emails of record to the new personal email so that I could. . .
- Get someone else to monitor my email while I was gone. (And, now that I’m back, help me grab things from email and add them to my project management system.)
- Repeatedly advised my clients that I would be fully out of town, not working, and that I’d have backup for them. (Sorry to be such a broken record! Y’all are the best!)
- Got all work that required me done early, even though I wouldn’t be paid until after my trip. (This also requires awesome clients.) Got contractors to do their work early and paid them immediately. (Requires awesome contractors.)
- Organized my dropbox so that other people could find things within it. (This was a DAYLONG project. That dropbox was a MESS.)
- Cleaned out my work email box so that I don’t get marketing emails from people/places/things I met/visited/bought 10 years ago, only emails from people I wanted to hear from. (My copyeditor (who did not edit this email) is rolling her eyes at this sentence right now. Sorry, Susan!)
- Set up my entire business in a project management system and set up systems for ongoing work. (This was time consuming and an investment but it was WORTH. IT. and will benefit my business in the future. If I were to get sick, this very important task of other people knowing how to run my business is done.)
- Introduced clients to designated account representatives and authorized representatives to take care of my clients.
- Wrote FAQs for all account representatives to reference.
- Put a thorough out of office email on my work email address.
- Trusted that the measures I spent 3 months working on would work, andtrusting that whatever didn’t work could be tweaked when I got back. (Harder than it sounds.)
Not all of you need all of these things, but is there one step that would help you achieve better work-life satisfaction?
For me, having a personal email has been very convenient. If I were to recommend one change, it would be that.
Please write back to me and tell me what you’re going to do to get your business to the point where you can leave it for 4-5 days without worrying about it. Or tell me why you can’t so maybe I can figure out how you can.
(And you don’t have to go to Paris to need 4 days off.)
Under the photos: bookmarks of the week!
Bookmarks of the Week
Here’s a little something for everyone.
RKA is one of my FAVORITES and she made a great blog post and Awkward Marketing episode about hiring a copywriter, AND included me in her recs list. *blushes* Watch the show. She’s AMAZING.
Take this Creativity Type quiz if you haven’t already.
I’m a “maker,” which fits me to a “T.” (Always busy solving problems.) Everyone who has taken it says it is really accurate to them. What are you? I’m curious!
Need soil? Need a website?
We just helped Organic Mechanics (makers of phenomenal organic potting soil and soil amendments) re-do their e-commerce website. Check it out here. If you need help, email me. Have friends that need website help? Please feel free to email introduce us!
Have a great week everyone!