Vacation how I have missed you. It is that time of year where people head out for a week or more away from their office and the practice of law. For years, I have a been a huge proponent of time away. The old addage work hard to play hard rings true. However, I always checked an answered email every day I was away. I would normally limit this to once daily first thing in the morning for about an hour. I thought this was time away, but last year I spent 10 billable hours handling a client emergency and that was too much and therefore, this yearI tried something new.
This year, I disconnected, vacated and dropped out of the practice of law for 10 days. IT WAS GREAT!!!. I just returned today and guess what — my practice, my secretary and my partners all made it without me. Wow. Just saying I am not available and sticking to it made for a great time away and a stress free Holiday in the sun.
It wasn’t a complete success but, I had very few office interruptions. I refused to answer emails or return phone calls. I had two text messages, one call to my secretary, one call to an associate and two calls to my cell phone which I refused to answer. In ten days, 6 interruptions is not bad. I will confess to looking to see what was in my email. However, I set my phone to manually check them instead of them just floating in. I read only a few and responded to non legal/personal emails only. I also managed to loose my phone at least 5 times. I simply forgot where I put it. Funny how that happens when you disengage.
I was thinking today as I reengaged with the office about why we need to emphasis the word VACATE when we plan our time out of the office. It is great to have time to give your brain and body a break from the constant demands and pressures of others. Of course, I will note this may be easier from some of us than others. Being a solo attorney is hard. But, I challenge people to find someone who can be their backup. I had several people taking care of my work/practice while I was a away and it worked.
This is the most relaxing vacation I have had in years. Next time, I am shooting for no email checking and even fewer contacts with my office. Frankly, there are very few things that can’t wait until you are back in the office. Making yourself available on vacation only encourages the client to email and or call and demand you handle something while you are away. It just comes down to boundaries and balance and for me I want to vacate and not think about work when I am on vacation.