I’ve spent the last couple of weeks planning for an extended vacation with my family. This is the first time in over four years that we’re doing something this big (or extended) and it’s the first time I’ve taken any sort of vacation since starting to work for myself.
It’s a bit nerve-wracking.
But I need the time away and I need it to be restful, so I knew I had plenty to do beforehand that would allow me to really take the time off and enjoy the trip with my wife, children, and extended family. What I didn’t realize at first is that the preparation for this trip would lead me down the path to a more proactive life in general.
I sat down and took a look at all of the things we do here at Productivityist and what would need to be done in advance in order for me to take two full weeks off. When I first examined everything, here’s what I came up with:
- 10 blog posts
- 2 newsletters
- 2 podcasts
The first item started at me right in the face. Ten blog posts is a lot. I didn’t think it would be possible to get them done along with everything else and deal with any Productivityist Coaching clients during the time leading up to vacation. Even with the help from additional contributors I didn’t think it was going to be done well…if achievable at all.
So I decided to examine something different.
I looked at how Productivityist could deliver quality content 5 days a week and not overtax itself in the process. I also knew that we were all working on other offerings that could progress much faster if we scaled down the blog post frequency. Then I looked at what other sites with blogs were doing in terms of posting frequency, especially those that also offered other types of content such as podcasts and newsletters.
That’s when I came up with a new content strategy. One that wouldn’t just help me properly prepare for time away from Productivityist, but also allow for growth and scale to happen in other areas of the business. Here’s what I came up with:
- Monday: Blog post
- Tuesday: Podcast
- Wednesday: Blog post
- Thursday: Newsletter
- Friday: Blog post
This new strategy is far more achievable, and also allows for content to be delivered in some form or another every weekday. We also discussed the idea of making Wednesday a “review post” of sorts, which is what we’ve been delivering the past few weeks. This theming of days falls in line with how I like to work anyway, so I’m all for it.
Now my workload before leaving on vacation looks like this:
- 6 blog posts
- 2 podcasts
- 2 newsletters
To be fair, I’ll only have to write two blog posts as the remainder will be written by some of the other contributors. Amy (my assistant) knows when these posts are supposed to be scheduled, so she’s on top of that. So once I’ve written those two blog posts, my work on the blog portion of Productivityist is done.
I know I will probably write some stuff while away. I’m a writer first and foremost, so while I won’t feel the pull of the “Publish” button as much, I’ll still get some ideas out of my head and into something more tangible. In fact, by doing so I’ll be proactive as I have two weeks’ worth of posts already set to go. Frankly, I like that idea. So I’ll keep doing my best to stay that far ahead of the curve going forward.
One podcast episode has already been recorded. All that needs doing is the editing, which is on my plate this time around. The second episode won’t take as long to put together, and it will be recorded two days before we leave. So the plan is to edit the first episode before I record the second, and then have both ready and waiting to publish two days prior to my departure.
The newsletters are another matter altogether. Why?
Because I’m not doing them.
In the newsletter that went out this week I explained in a callout text box that I’ll be away for the next two weeks so the newsletter will be on hiatus until I get back. I knew that with the time I had at my disposal that the quality of these newsletters might be compromised, so rather than ship them I am going to take a break from them. I know doing so will benefit everyone involved.
So my workload is now down to two podcast episodes, which will be in the can and ready to go right before I leave. And I already have the episode for the week when I return recorded, so editing it when I get back isn’t going to put me too far out. Plus, I’ve got interviews lined up and episodes already in the works through to the end of April as a result of this vacation preparation.
The last thing I’ll do before leaving is email any clients, letting them know I’ll be away. I’ll also set up AwayFind on my email accounts to indicate when I’ll return, giving myself a gap day or two to settle in when I return.
I’m living more proactively and that means I’ve tailored my task apps, Todoist and Asana, to fit that lifestyle as well. My filters in Todoist are now showing me tasks in my different modes (writing, planning, etc.) 30 days out. I’ve got projects lined up in Asana for the Productivityist team that only existed as ideas in Evernote until recently.
So by looking ahead I was able to adjust what I needed to do, really honed honed in on what ought I to do, and set myself up for the things I want to do down the line. Clearly these things are going to be different for you, but when you break down the “need to do” stuff in advance and do it, then the stuff you ought to do gets clarified (either you do it or you don’t). This practice allows you to ultimately do the things you want to do – whether it is enjoy a restful vacation, write that book (or those books) you’ve been meaning to get to, or anything else that has been cast aside because you weren’t proactive enough to give them the time and space they needed.
My Small Sabbaticals set the tone for all of these things initially, but this vacation preparation – knowing I’ll be away for two weeks – took everything to a whole new level.
And it’s a level I’m absolutely loving because it gives me more time, more freedom, and more of everything else I enjoy.
What steps have you taken before going on vacation to make sure you have a restful time while away and a less stressful time when you return? I’d love to hear what you do in the comments below.