Work & Travel: Finding the balance between play and productivity

 I’m a wanderlust by nature and love an opportunity to travel and explore with my campmates, especially when it involves a warm beach or powder-covered mountain. I also look forward to a trip that involves a conference center in Chicago meeting with our treasured clients. It’s always an adventure. The adventures, however, come with a price. Whenever we’re away from the office, the work doesn’t pause or slow; it continues to build and requires a remote work strategy to manage it all. With today’s climate where many of us are working from home, “remote work” has taken on a whole new meaning and has its own unique set of challenges.

My partner in life is also my partner in business. Together, Buddy and I have built and sold multiple companies. Over the years, our companies have provided us with the opportunity for travel. I mean A LOT of travel. When scaling one of our companies, we lived in six states, over a period of three years, plus client meetings and conferences that took us around the country. This was a crazy busy and exciting time for us, but the administrative work at our headquarters in San Diego still had to get done. To manage it all, I had to become a remote work ninja. Whether we’re at the office, working from home, on a business trip or a family vacation, having a structured remote work routine has been essential in allowing me to crush my work commitments, and slay with my tribe! 

We’ve always made the effort to travel together, but sometimes the demands of the companies, and family, have required us to be in multiple places at once. When we can, we turn business trips into vacations and bring the family along. One summer, we drove across the country and back, taking crew members to dinner and conducting job interviews, while stopping to tour national parks and visiting family members, along the way. Still, there are other times, when we straight up take a family vacation!

And, as any entrepreneur can relate, when we’re on holiday, we’re still working. Occasionally, family and friends have commented that it seems like a burden, but not for us. We love it all! We’re chasing our dreams, and because we love what we do, it doesn’t feel like work! Mindset is the real-deal, and our Mindset is that we GET to do business on vacation. We’re thankful to be able to grow our business and demonstrate our passion and perspective to our children!

When your spouse is your partner, and you’re both out of the office, you need even more self-discipline. Finding a rhythm can be challenging. For us, it’s been a learning process. Here, are some tips we’ve learned over the years to manage our existing workloads, gain traction on new initiatives, spend quality time with our family and explore new places and adventures on our journeys. I hope you’ll find it helpful too!

A theme in our home is: Work Hard, Play Harder. You’ll find this underlying message in our writing, speeches and training. I believe in embracing life to the full and living purposefully with that objective in mind. Yes, at times, this intense lifestyle can be exhausting. I have to live very intentionally to keep pace with our self-imposed chaos. This starts with a relentless morning routine that includes meditation, journaling and working out and leads into a day of a healthy(ish) diet and adequate sleep. Truth, I’m never 100 percent. I never fully “crush it” in every area, but I am always trying to move the needle forward and it helps keep me centered amidst the mayhem. 

Travel is part of that mayhem, but it’s worth the effort. Travel will enrich your life and create impactful experiences and memories to share with your family. It can also expand your business, and I’m not just referring to the big meetings and conferences you attend while on your trips. Exposure to new cultures, excellent customer service and interactions with new people can serve as an opportunity to broaden your experience and foster an environment for creative innovation within your own business.

Here are some Work & Travel Life Hacks to help you prepare for your next trip. You’ll be excited and organized with a smart plan that will allow you to stay on top of your work life as you embrace the time with your littles!

1) Prep Hard Before Leaving

Plan ahead to take as little work with you as possible. I work like crazy when prepping to be out of the office. I make a list of all of the tasks that I can complete before leaving, so I go into my trip feeling really good about my momentum.


2) Put Everything in a Planner

I know it’s 2021, but I still use a planner. I also use my iCal, and my husband and I share calendars, so we don’t double book each other. When I’m preparing to be out of the office, I find it helpful to write everything down and to see it all laid out in one place. I can review it daily to see what the week and specific days look like at a glance.


3) Set Up Autoreply for Voicemail and Email

I used to be wildly insecure about using autoreply, I thought my clients would lose respect for me if they knew I didn’t chain myself to my work desk. Now, I use my autoreply as a chance to gain respect and build trust with my clients and team members by keeping them informed.
Here’s an example of how I structure an autoreply:

 

Hello There!
I’ll be away from my desk X through X. I’ll be responding to emails and messages twice daily, so there may be a slight delay in my response time, but you know you can count on me! If you need immediate assistance, please reach out to X at (XXX)XXX-XXXX. Otherwise, I’ll be in touch shortly. As always, thank you for your trust and confidence in our team. We are Here to Serve®!
Long Live the Adventure, Nikki

4) Streamline Your Meeting Schedule

Once you’ve organized your schedule, identify what you can delegate to minimize the number of conference calls you need to attend. Delegation is essential to scaling a business. You must have a capable team that you trust. That’s why you hired them, right? If you aren’t a natural delegator, start working on this skill now. It will empower your team and elevate your capacity to focus on areas of your highest and best use. Also, assign someone to take notes in meetings and to email you a recap for your review during your scheduled work period (see below).


6) Tag-Team (For Couplepreneurs)
Cover for each other: You both don’t have to be everywhere at once. Decide who needs to attend what meetings, and let that person recap the other when possible.

 

7) Schedule Working Periods
Schedule working periods twice a day to check and respond to emails, review recaps and take action on any outstanding projects. Ensure that these time slots are short and as efficient as possible. Mitigate distractions so you can dive in, be productive and then get back to the fun! Note: Don’t take calls on the botanical garden hike to the waterfall with your kids. Be present. They deserve it and so do you!

8) Wake Up Early
We are relentless about our morning routines, even when on vacation. We still wake up early and tackle our individual routines, first thing. Early morning is a great time to knock out your first working period of the day. The kiddos are still sleeping, and you both can be extremely productive without distractions. You can get through all of your morning emails before the team is in the office and can still hit the slopes for some morning turns.

 

9) Maximize Flight/Naptime
I try to maximize flight time, to get the extra edge before starting a vacation or returning to the office. I use this time to work on big initiatives. Our kids don’t have access to tablets, unless we’re traveling a long distance, so during this time, they’re pretty captivated. I’m working on writing, preparing a presentation for an upcoming speaking opportunity, building a proposal or curriculum or updating our financials while they’re watching the newest movie we downloaded before the flight. It’s amazing how productive I am on a plane! If your kiddos are still young enough to nap, this is another perfect time for scheduling your working periods. They won’t even notice that you’re growing your empire while they’re sleeping peacefully.

 

10) Play Hard
Lastly, remember what’s important. Work hard during your scheduled work periods. Stay on top of your emails, so you don’t fall behind and bottleneck your team. Empower and build trust in your leaders — your company will be better for it. Be in the moment with your partner and children. Focus on each other and cherish the time together. Abstain from checking your phone while you’re with your family, and don’t feel guilty. Life is short and they’ll be out pursuing their own adventures before we know it. Prioritize your family; don’t fit them in around your business. When you schedule your priorities — instead of prioritizing your schedule — you are in control of what you deem is most important. What’s most important to you — the journey or pursuit of what’s at the end of it?