It Can Wait

I’m back at work after my first week of vacation in two years, and feel pretty great about life.

The biggest step for me was I didn’t bring a computer for the first time in years. I still had my phone and iPad, but spent less than two hours total on the iPad, one of which was the GoT finale.

There was plenty of work waiting for me on Tuesday, and I even got back to it starting on Monday (Happy Birthday ‘Merica). But it had been a long time since I intentionally told myself that work can wait.

Would I have less if I hadn’t taken a full week? Yes

Would it have been less if I did an hour in the morning before everyone was up? Yes.

But I wouldn’t have enjoyed the clear head that true time away from work brings. 1 hour in the morning would have weighed down the rest of my day and made me think about what was waiting for me on July 5th.

The best compliment I received on vacation was from my wife, who was noted how present I was during the trip. Not replying to emails, doing one last thing, trying to catch up or get ahead.

I say this because I do it a lot. ConvertKit is still growing at a fast pace, and there’s always something to do, a ticket to reply to, a form to design or sketchnotes to draw. There’s always something, and I like to make things happen.

Every day, I reminded myself the work could wait. There were three primary reasons for this.

One: Dialing in the Documentation

At ConvertKit, we fight like mad to document the process behind our work. Because of this, someone leaving for a week (or longer) doesn’t leave the company or the customers stuck in a bottleneck.

The processes were acceptable, but not great in the month leading up to my trip. The final two weeks were drilling down the processes and doing some live trainings with the team to answer any questions that came up.

Two: Stress Tests

Brain dumping your process isn’t the final step. Live trainings aren’t. Stress tests are. The last week before vacation, we had Violetta on our team join me on a couple calls with customers and take the lead on her migration. This allowed her to use the documentation and training available, and see what came up in the migration that wasn’t covered.

Doing this before I left allowed Violetta to ask questions directly when she hit a stress point. It helped me fill in the gaps I missed in the documentation process too, because I was naturally doing things that didn’t occur to her.

Three: Communicating with Customers

The final piece was communicating ahead of time with the active and recently completed migrations to let them know I would be away. A blogger’s email list is arguably their most valuable asset, so we always try to make them feel in the loop switching from their old provider to ConvertKit. Writing to me and seeing a vacation reply come back would be frustrating to say the least!

So everyone received an email from me a couple days before, giving them an update on the migration, how long I would be gone, and who they would be hearing from for updates and questions. These short emails went a long way in easing the stress of a migration for both sides.

Coming Back

All of this came together to give me a week away where I was disconnected as I’ve ever been. It also gave the team zero drop-off in productivity on a project where I had been the driving force. I trusted Violetta and the rest of the team and it gave me peace that work could wait until I returned.

To make things even better, I haven’t experienced a rush of emails and to-do items the past couple of days. I’ve just picked back up in the natural flow of what needs to be done.

My hope is that I can continue using these lessons and reminders going forward too. It’s one thing to say that work can wait on vacation, it’s an entirely different mini-choice when dinner is over and I can hang out with my family or knock out another hour of work. If I’ve been disciplined during the day, our process is intact, and I’ve communicated clear expectations, then it can wait.

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