How to Prepare for Vacations as a Virtual Assistant

I know I’m not alone in this…if there’s one thing I LOVE, it’s a good vacation!!! I am so grateful that working for myself allows me to literally work from ANYWHERE, but, gone are the days of turning in vacation time and not worrying about what is happening in “the office.”  So, here are just a few of my tips for fellow virtual assistants and business owners on how to prepare your business before going on vacation!

BEFORE VACATION

Determine if it is a “Working Vacation” or a “NO Work Vacation”

When my husband and I went on our England + Scotland vacation earlier this year, I had been working two jobs and was exhausted!  To celebrate going full-time (and our anniversary), I decided that I would NOT work at all during those couple weeks in order to recuperate and enjoy that time off.  During our Montana vacation a few weeks ago, however, I didn’t want to leave my clients completely on their own during the busy season and I knew I would have some time every couple days to get a few tasks done.  However, I did warn my clients that my turnaround time would be longer due to my travels!!

Email Clients at least TWICE: 1 month before and 2 weeks before

Totally honesty here: I almost always try to email my clients at least one month before I leave for vacation and then a couple weeks before, but this time around we weren’t sure if we were even going to be able to go…so I only gave my clients a two-week notice! NOT ideal, but life does happen and I feel so grateful for my clients’ grace and understanding of the change in my schedule.

However, I really want to encourage other VA’s out there to be sure to give as much notice to your clients as possible. If it’s a vacation you’ve been planning for years/you know about it far in advance, I would send this in your start-of-the-year email to your clients and tell them the dates in which you know you’ll be out of the office.

When going on vacation, I always let them know the dates I’ll be gone, what my work schedule will look like (or if I’m not working at all), my turnaround time, a deadline for all tasks to be sent (if they want those done before I leave), and to have them let me know what they expect to send me while I’m gone.  Knowing what tasks they’re going to send me helps me carve out time to work while on vacation!

For example: A client always sends me wedding images to blog on Tuesday nights so the blog post can be published on Wednesday.  She was able to send me her wedding schedule for when I was away–so I knew I needed  to carve out time on that Tuesday night so I could be sure I connect to Wifi and get that work done on schedule.

Set-up Out of Office Email Response

This might seem like a no-brainer—but don’t forget it! I always set up my out-of-office email response around a week or so before I leave (and schedule it to have it start on the day I leave). I never want to wait until the night before I leave and forget to put in information OR forget to actually set it up. I really recommend adding in the following information: dates you’ll be out of the office, if you’ll be checking emails, how often you’ll be checking emails, and when they can expect a response!

DURING VACATION

ENJOY

This part is pretty simple, but while you’re on vacation: you either need to unplug from work and enjoy – OR – enjoy vacation but be sure to schedule reminders for yourself to work on those specific days you told your clients you would (does anyone else forget what day it is on vacation!? No?…Just me?).

When you sit down to work: turn off all distractions and clock-in, get the work done, communicate with your client, and get back to enjoying vacay!  As fun as it is to be able to work from the road…you’ll still want time to enjoy your vacation off-the-clock.

Be SURE (if you do a lot of file syncing like I do as an editor and VA) to stay connected to wifi long enough for all of your files to upload once you’ve finished working!  Also–plan ahead!  The night before you have scheduled yourself  to work, leave your computer connected to wifi overnight so you will have all the files synced and ready to go for you to start work immediately the next day.

AFTER VACATION

Dig Out of the Inbox Black-Hole

If you didn’t work at all over vacation, you’ll most likely have a much larger hole to dig yourself out of (aka the inbox black hole!).  I would really recommend blocking off a few hours the morning you get home to get back into the swing of it all and get as caught up as possible.

Acknowledge Emails Received

If you have piles of emails to respond to and you know it might take you a while to thoroughly respond to all of them, I always like to send a quick email to my client to let them know that I got their email and I’m back in the office, and will respond/answer all of their questions by ____date.

 

Anyway, I hope these few tips are helpful for those of you who are trying to prepare for being out of the office!! Comment below with some of your favorite tips for prepping for vacation!

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