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Rationing your work during the holidays
Create time for focus, so you can return to rest

We can't always switch off from work entirely. Use this technique to create short bursts of focused time for work, so you can get back to resting during the longer holiday weeks.

Let's be honest, right now, not everyone can afford to take time off. 

Whilst rest is an essential part of your wellbeing as an individual, as a business owner it can seem almost impossible to shut your business down for a period of time over things like the summer holidays. 

There are ways to take time off, including planning ahead, building up your finances, getting people to buddy up with you, or even just putting your out of office on and hoping for the best, but even if you manage to step away, it can be hard to truly step away from work.

Some would argue that a complete 100% switch-off is essential - but what about that nagging feeling in the back of your head that, even if you're not checking your emails, there might be something which needs your attention?

For those of you who need to be still aware of what's happening, try this technique: rationing your work-time during holidays.

Rationing your work time allows you to spend a focused block of time catching up with your business - perhaps that's checking your emails, dealing with any issues, putting enquiries on hold or arranging a time to speak after you return; and then once you've checked-in, you can close the laptop and return to focusing on you and your rest.

This technique works especially well for freelancing parents, who might have their kids around, and want to be present for their family, but still need to pick up some things for work.

How to holiday ration your work:

1/ Set aside a time each day. 
Find a block of time each day or each other day to focus on work. It could be an hour in the morning, an hour in the afternoon, a half day each week. Start with a small block of time at first, so you're not eating too much in to your time off.

2/ Schedule the time in your calendar, and create yourself an agenda.
What tasks are you aiming to achieve in that time. Try to avoid doing tasks you've not aimed to do - it can be easy to drift into additional things, and your time will get eaten up.

3/ Triage heavily. If you're using the time to check your inbox, don't get sucked into tasks which can be deferred. Mark up your tasks as "do now", "respond now", "can wait". Only add things to the 'do now' pile if they're absolutely critical. Add things to the 'respond now' pile if you can defer the work until later, but you need to respond today. Mark everything as as 'can wait', and either do it when you return to work, or in a your next scheduled block of time.

4/ Be transparent. Don't be afraid to respond to enquiries that you're not available to reply immediately, but offer a time when they can speak to you after your holiday. 

5/ Once you're done, put your work away. After you've completed your time, put your laptop or work tangibly away in a place that isn't reminding you of things. Spend the rest of the day without returning to work.

It's not a fool-proof system - there's always a risk that you might uncover an email which triggers you thinking about something or you spot an issue that gets you concerned. But rationing work in this way gives you some reassurance that your business is ticking along in the background whilst you're having a break, and gives you a solid chunk of time to step away from work.

Remember, everyone works (and rests) in different ways - this technique might not be right for you, you might prefer 100% zero connection to work whilst you're resting, or you might need smaller bursts of rest rather than long chunks of time away from work. As you continue to develop your ways of working, try new techniques, and see what works effectively for you. 

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