I go on a fair amount of trips or vacations. It could be a few days abroad at an affiliate conference, a weekend hanging out with friends, or a lengthy vacation with my family. Overall I would say I travel/vacation at least 8 times per year.
However balancing work with a vacation can be very difficult. How many of you have came back from an affiliate conference or a long vacation in the sun, only to really struggle to get back to work? Just 4 days ago you were sipping sarsaparillas in the Dominican Republic, and now you’re sitting at your desk, with a full inbox, lots of work in front of you, and the motivation of a dog turd.
Thankfully, I never have that problem. I used to have it. I used to come back from a vacation and sit at my desk for hours doing absolutely nothing. I’d browse the likes of Facebook, YouTube etc while chatting to friends online about my trip, and just never get anything done. Then I’d get depressed at my lack of progress on day 1 of my vacation return, which would affect the rest of the work week as a whole.
I’ve learnt a lot over the years, and in this article I’m going to offer 5 tips that will hopefully help you when you’re coming back from vacation. Having just returned from a vacation, this is the perfect time to write this:
#1: Preparation Is The Key
That’s a life lesson of course, not just reserved for this article. How many of you have Googled “Hangover cure” at least once in the last year? What do all the articles say? It’s all about the preparation and the planning. The same applies for vacation time.
About a week before you go on vacation, plan out the week. Make up a list of EVERYTHING you want to get accomplished within that week. Prioritize it so that you get the important ones done. Get up to date on everything – especially the e-mail inbox. The last thing you want is anything hanging over your head when you go on vacation.
I sort the pre-trip to do list out by priority because the low priority items are the “small stuff”, and we all know not to sweat the small stuff. If you don’t get to it that’s okay – it’s those big items that you really need to deal with. If you leave for vacation while having work hanging over your head – you’re going to come back and feel REALLY demotivated, feeling really down, and will feel like you’re playing “catch-up” immediately.
I actually broke this rule just last week. I went to Edmonton on vacation, and we decided to delay the launch of the Affiliate Bible design. It was probably the right thing to do due to time constraints -but man, it really sucked. It was hanging over my head the whole time, and since coming back I’ve just not had the motivation to get the design launched. Initially scheduled for Saturday, we ended up putting it off for 3 days in a row simply due to post-vacation lack of motivation. It’s not fun.
#2: Plan Additional Days Off
Coming back from vacation and immediately throwing yourself into work is something I have found never works out. You’re still in post-vacation depression mode. Depending on how far you traveled, you might be dealing with jet lag as well.
I will usually plan 1-2 additional days off after an affiliate conference or vacation. I find that being around my computer, but not actually using it, gives me a strong sense of motivation. I’ll start thinking more and more about work, to the point whre my motivation will drive me to work, rather than just forcing myself to.
I returned from Edmonton on Friday morning, and decided to take Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. I spent time with my kids, played XBox, watched TV, and generally relaxed. However by the time Saturday night rolled around I was getting literally PUMPED for work, to the point that I decided not to take the day off on Sunday, and it ended up being my “Catch Up” day.
Sidenote: I usually like to schedule a massage for when I return. Not only is this a nice time to relax, but it also helps if you’ve been cooped up in airplanes and airports for hours on end
#3: Schedule A Catch Up Day
When you come back from vacation, you’ll have a lot to catch up on. E-mails. Websites/Articles to read. Possibly some basic website work. Comments to reply to. Whatever. For me – I have e-mails to catch up on. I have to update my sports betting tips database. Send out a few mailing list announcements. Catch up on forums. Read everything on my Google Reader. See what fascinating Facebook status updates I missed in the last week.
So I schedule a “catch up” day. A day where I’m just going to focus on getting all caught up with that. It’s usually light work, takes just a few hours, and gets me set up for a big work week. I find that when I’m finished catching up, I’m actually even more motivated to keep on working. Which sets me up for the best possible work week back.
#4: Don’t Work on Vacation
For sooo many reasons. I mean for one – just enjoy the bloody vacation. Don’t be on that plane writing content on your Netbook. Relax and enjoy.
By just shutting off work for a few days, you’ll feel like you fully took advantage of the vacation – that you really earned it. It may sound silly – but by shutting off work, you’ll give yourself something to look forward to when you return. Most affiliate marketers do this for a living because we ENJOY it – we actually LOVE doing this sort of work. But we can get sick of it. So by taking a break for a few days from it all it can really recharge our batteries, and get us psyched when we return.
You also don’t want to get confused about where you are work wise. It’s a lot better to just “shut off” and then “start up again” than trying to do minimal work.
#5: The Post-Trip To Do List
I saved what I feel is the most important one, for last.
Whenever I returned from vacations or affiliate conferences, I found it really hard to get started. I wasn’t exactly sure what work I should be doing, or how to really begin.
I never have that problem anymore, thanks to the post-trip to do list.
Prior to leaving for a vacation, I create a post-trip to do list. As soon as I am back and ready to work, I immediately tackle that to do list. Remember in tip #1, where I said we create a list of items to do before we leave? Well any of the low priority items that didn’t get done get added to this list. This list is a huge mismatch of items – including some that aren’t even really classified as “affiliate marketing work”.
I also like to add a nice amount of variety to this to do list. Here’s an example few items from my most recent post-vacation to do list:
- Redirect 301 a Domain/Website
- Update WordPress/Wordpress Plugins on all Sites
- Do my Laundry
- Write article for Website A
- Send out Press Release for Website B
- Update any website polls with new topic
- Order my wifes Mothers Day gifts
- Come up with 30 content ideas for New Website A
- Update NBA Tips Record
- Write Article for Website C
- Domain Renewals
- Process Affiliate Wallet Withdrawals for All Sites
- Clean my monitors/TV
- Update website C rakeback page: “No longer doing rakeback for this room”
That’s just a sampling. But as you can see there is a WIDE variety of stuff to cover. Some of it isn’t actually affiliate work – but it’s still “work” in another way. Some of it will take me minutes to do, others will take a couple of hours. Either way it’s the best method I find for getting back into work.
No more do I sit here thinking “ugh where do I get started?”. I KNOW where I’m going to get started, and I start rocking as soon as I wake up on my first back to work day. Even better is that the to do list is of course numbered, so each item I do feels like “progress”. Hell yesterday I had a 60 item to do list when I came back. I knocked it down to 18. Now granted, a lot of the items I did took just a few minutes – but to get a to do list down from 60 to 18 is a fantastic feeling, that keeps me motivated for the rest of the week.
Hopefully these tips help you the next time you go on vacation or go to an affiliate conference. Unless you’re one of my direct competitors for a money keyword, in which case I hope your plane crashes on an island and you spend the next 6 years time-traveling and being chased by polar bears.