Are you envious of people who can go on vacation and not give work, home, or other obligations a thought? I use to be but then decided it really wasn’t the right mindset for me.

As many of you know, I am an advocate of “the blended life” (to read more take a look at my past article on the topic). Right now, I’m preparing to take a blended vacation. That’s right, I’ve finally admitted to myself I can’t shut off everything when I am away and don’t really want to. One of the advantages of having a career you love is that it intrigues, entertains, and enlightens you at all hours and anywhere. I’m not talking about intrusive phone calls (I screen mine on off hours year-round anyway), or staying up in a hotel room to all hours answering e-mails (forbid myself from doing that). What I am referring to is taking all of me away with pieces of my work and addressing what really can’t wait or interests me, reducing the amount I will come home to, and most important, being open to new business ideas in a relaxing and fresh environment.

Here’s how it goes. When I hear, “You have twenty new messages and ten saved messages,” it sends chills down my spine, especially when I haven’t even unpacked. I’d much rather address calls on a timelier basis. When I’m away, I make sure to have a very specific message on my voice mail informing people I’m out of the office from such and such date until such and such date. I also inform callers I’m only handling the immediate needs of current or former clients. (I see my obligation to clients as much greater than I do with a stranger or a colleague asking for advice.) I suggest everyone else call me back after a certain date. You would be amazed how few messages I receive. And, to tell you the truth, the people who do need to speak with me really have a justified reason. So much for phone calls.

E-mails. My pre-holiday routine starts with unsubscribing to the many newsletters, e-mails, and other junk that seems to have crept into my inbox. I’m pretty brutal about it. This simple exercise significantly reduces the quantity of e-mails (forever!). Second, I check my spam filter and make sure it is as high as my business can tolerate (forces me to check my spam box but at least the important e-mails get the attention they deserve). Finally, I take 15 minutes in the morning and evening of each day and look at what’s in my inbox. Only those messages that are extremely time sensitive, require a brief response, or seem like fun, get my efforts. Some receive “I’m on vacation will respond when I return.” Most sit. The reason I do this is to avoid returning to an inbox chock full of assorted e-mails. The reentry is challenging enough without having to sort and respond. Also, as anyone who has even worked for me knows, I hate surprises. I find this approach reduces my anxiety, curiosity, and ultimate workload.

I once read about a business executive who took plane trips just so he could think and write. I have considered this myself (well maybe briefly dreamed about it). I find flying very boring and a bit claustrophobic. I never watch the movie and rarely eat the food (if they even serve it). I love to think and write in the air. Some of my best ideas have come at 30,000 feet over the Grand Canyon or the Atlantic. They can be fleeting or very concrete; however, without a means of capturing them, I find they’re forgotten. This is why I have my laptop on and available. Not everything I address is business. Sometimes I write a letter (you remember letters?) to a dear friend, look at finances; plan a dinner party, or all of the above. There is something about being strapped in with nowhere to go that makes me calm down and play in my creative space. It makes travel time a luxury rather than a means to an end.

Finally, I let go. Admit to myself things will continue without me. It is a very liberating experience. Yes, you play a role in people’s and organization’s lives; however, they are intelligent adults with other contacts and resources who can figure it out. And, of course there’s always 911.

I have no plans of dialing 911 in the next few weeks and neither should you.

I continue to be amazed at how many people have a travel consultant, golf pro, an accountant, and a lawyer, as well as a hairdresser, trainer, and computer geek, but when it comes to their careers, they are out there on their own.

Why don’t you have a coach?

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.