If you’re sending emails, making phone calls, reviewing discovery and checking up on cases, depositions, partners or employees while sitting on an island paradise then you aren’t really on vacation. You’re just working in from a beautiful location. The scenery has changed, but the stress is very much the same.
The problem with traveling away from the office to a beautiful beach or a scenic mountain range under the pretense of a vacation getaway just to be sucked back into work-mode is twofold.
Working vacations are neither work nor vacation…You are ineffectively vacationing thus disappointing everyone around you and... You are doing a poor job of getting work done. Frankly, you might be getting in the way of those back on the mainland.
Why go on vacation if you’re not going to vacate?
If you’re going to do anything go all in or don’t go at all.
I don’t have to tell you that success comes to those who specialize, focus, and go for “it” with everything they’ve got. Success, however, doesn’t only pertain to business. Your personal life will benefit from concerted, focused attention.
When you are doing your best work and you are the most productive, when you’re “in the groove” and have attained your peak state of flow are you honestly thinking about home, dinner, or your kid’s little league game? Probably not. That’s not a bad thing. You wouldn’t be effective if you were.
On the other hand, when you’re at home, eating dinner, or at your kid’s little league game why are you thinking about work? Don’t those areas of your life deserve the concerted, focused attention you award to your work?
When you’ve decided to take a vacation… be on vacation.
Before taking a break from work ask yourself, “Do I really even want to be on vacation?”
I’ve met many a person who came back from an extended time off just to complain about being bored. What a waste of free time!
Some people - actually, a lot of people - don’t like free time. They don’t know what to do with themselves. The suggestion to those people is to schedule your fun!
Taking away all obligations and responsibilities and then isolating yourself from your social circle effectively yanks you out of your life and your daily routine. A vacation frees you from your calendar but takes away your structure and guidance. That can be jarring.
A sudden influx of free time can be hard to cope with when you are left without a plan for it. Whether you’re relaxing or roughing it, put it on the agenda and show up for couple’s yoga with the same focus and urgency as you would a meeting or conference call.
Maybe getting drunk on a beach while staring into the crashing waves all day sounds boring. So plan your vacation accordingly. Don’t go on strenuous backpacking trips up the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada if your idea of getting away is room service and facials. Likewise, don’t force yourself into spa treatments if your ideal holiday is taking a road trip around the contiguous United States in a Winnebago.
If you’re committed to getting away from work then plan your vacation around your likes and your own temperament. Keep your mind active and body engaged. Do your own version of a vacation.
But can you leave without everything collapsing?
The strategies for getting away from work and focusing on R&R are obvious at this point, and we all know them: Turn off notifications, set an out of office autoreply, and switch your phone to silent. But how can you up and leave and not return to a pile of rubble?
If you’ve built a law firm that can’t survive a day without you, congratulations you’ve built a brittle business with a single point of failure. If your day-to-day operations will truly come to a grinding halt in your absence, it’s time to get help.
Creating a rugged, self-driving practice not only allows you to take a sick day or vacation, it frees you up to focus on big picture moves and growth. It guarantees income and security for you and your family. The only way to achieve this is by instituting systems, removing bottlenecks, and empowering those around you.
Eliminate Decision Making: Build Systems and Protocols
Identify the actions you take regularly that drive your firm's day-to-day. Put pen to paper and draft the steps involved. What is the series of events? How can you make it more efficient? What steps can you eliminate? What aspects can you automate? What can you outsource?
Where can you apply tech to go hands-free?
When it comes to scheduling and coordinating virtually anything, these days there is a litany of tools you can employ to remove yourself from the equation. From simple client scheduling apps like calendly.com to the full-service deposition scheduling we offer at Discovery Litigation Services that free you from ever having to schedule/coordinate/staff a deposition again and Docubot the chatbot that you can implement on your website to help clients generate legal documents and also handle new client intake.
There are plenty of resources that will free you from the nitty gritty of time wasting and inefficient back-and-forth communications. While technology can handle a lot of the mindless tasks you and your team are faced with, do you have something in place to handle the bigger more sensitive issues that will arise?
What can you empower others to do while you’re away?
If the answer is nothing, you just might have the wrong team in place. Building a strong team is crucial and it is going to be your biggest asset in delegating and outsourcing important tasks while you’re on vacation.
Finding your Number Two and their number two and the support under them who will ensure that work will get done at the high levels you require while you’re away isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity for growth and freedom. Employ smart people then give them the tools and the power to make decisions up to a threshold you set, and you just might be surprised how much can get done without your direct involvement.
What’s the worst that will happen?
Avoiding possible negative outcomes is just being oblivious and unrealistic. Challenges will present themselves and stuff breaks. That’s everyone’s everyday on this planet. However, getting a leg up on the issues before they happen will allow you to strategize solutions to these problems for others to implement when you’re away.
If something breaks when you’re gone, can it be fixed upon your arrival? Can you empower those who work for you to make bigger and bigger decisions before having to get you involved?
Brainstorm What-ifs and Worst-Case-Scenarios. Devise solutions ahead of time.
Create a list of what-ifs to help emphasize where you need to focus attention:
If I didn’t answer my emails or phone for a day, a week, a month… what would happen?
Lose business = missed revenue. Can I automate lead generation? Can I outsource client acquisition?
Current clients aren’t serviced, they leave. Can someone else take over client communication while I’m gone?
My inbox fills up and I’ll never get to inbox zero again... Can I hire someone to sort and respond to emails with templated responses? Do I have someone I trust to take over communications? Can I warn my clients I’ll be unavailable well in advance?
Everything falls apart and my law firm crumbles to the ground. Then I have to start over from scratch. Am I okay with this? What resources/knowledge/tools/experience do I have now that I didn’t have when I first started. Would it be so hard to start fresh? Will this really happen? Why or Why not?
You won’t always predict everything bad that could happen while you’re away. Creating clear guidelines for the issues you can foresee, creating a framework within which your team can make decisions, and making clear what your firm’s primary objective is will inform your team’s decisions.
For instance: I know of a restaurant group whose objective is to make regular patrons out of every guest who walks through the door. They train their staff to be beyond accommodating and actually practice going out of their way for every customer. Additionally, they empower their employees to make decisions in service of the guest’s experience emphasizing that the company has, “an open checkbook” for the guest’s happiness.
Building a team you can trust to act on your behalf, who will uphold your standards is step one. Step two: Trust them to do so.
Implement! Test, test, test...
The next step is to implement and test. Don’t wait to put your team members, tech, and systems in place. Start now while you have the luxury of oversight so you can guide and make tweaks along the way.
What have you done today that will help you enjoy your vacation tomorrow?
To start, check out how we can take care of your upcoming deposition. We cover everything from scheduling, hiring court reporters and videographers, to staffing your legal team and then some.