Will you be working while on holiday this summer?

If the answer is a reluctant ‘yes’, then you’re in the right place! Knowing you’re going to have to put in some hours or be on call when you’re meant to be relaxing and enjoying yourself can be annoying, frustrating or even worrying – but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Working when you’re away doesn’t have to completely ruin your holiday experience if you approach it in the right way.  So read on! 

There’s one school of thought that sees holidays as sacred time that should be protected at all costs; that the idea of working during this time is an unacceptable encroachment of our public lives into our private lives; that we all deserve a period of undisturbed rest and/or enjoyment. Indeed, no one would argue that we aren’t all entitled to some time to ourselves to relax or have fun. However, in my opinion and experience, the issue isn’t quite so clear cut.

In reality, for the majority of people operating at a very senior level and earning high salaries (like the majority of my clients), working whilst on holiday is considered part of the culture. It’s an expected  part of the job and is a trade off for the responsibility of seniority and the high salary that comes with it. I experienced this myself when working in corporate law, and even though I now have my own business,  I still need to work when I’m away. I’m actually writing this from a lovely villa in Paros, Greece whilst on holiday with my family and some friends. I’m managing to do it without feeling resentful and hopefully without alienating my husband or short-changing my family though – and this is because I have developed a strategy for managing my workload, my feelings and my family’s expectations. I’d like to share it with you now.

Here’s how to successfully manage working on holiday:

1. Examine your beliefs about working on holiday. 
Do you have negative beliefs about the idea of working on holiday?  Do you believe that working on holiday is wrong in principle – or that you are owed a work-free holiday experience from your employer? Do you feel that you won’t get to relax or enjoy yourself properly if you have to work for part of the time? If you start off with a negative view of holiday working, you are far more likely to be resistant, to develop resentful feelings towards your employer or client and to avoid making a plan or strategy in advance that could help you manage it better.

2. Challenge your negative beliefs.
Ask yourself, where did I get the idea that it’s wrong to work on holidays in principle? Who taught me this? Where did I learn it? You’ll soon discover that this thought is not a fact, it’s a belief that you’ve picked up somewhere along the way in life. This means that, as a belief and not a fact set in stone, if it isn’t serving you, you can change it.

3. Counter with positive beliefs.
Think about what other ideas you could have about working on holiday that would serve you better. What else could you believe? What if the opposite were true? Now list all the positive beliefs you could possibly hold about working on holiday. Don’t worry about whether you do believe them or not, just brainstorm and see what you can come up with.

Here are some examples:
 – working on holiday allows me to leave the office and means I get to have a holiday that I might otherwise have to cancel.
– working on holiday allows me to stay connected to what’s going on.
– working on holiday means I can stay on top of things and won’t return to a backlog.
– Part of my job is to work while on holiday – it’s part of the deal and the reason I’m paid what I’m paid (which is how I am paying for this holiday!)
– (my personal favourite) I don’t HAVE to work on holiday, I CHOOSE to work on holiday because I care about my career and am committed to delivering for my clients.
– even though I am working on holiday, I am still having a holiday because I have much more control over how and when I work.

4. Try adopting some of these positive beliefs.
Start trying these new beliefs on for size and think yourself into a positive mindset about holiday working. Consider how you will FEEL differently as a result. When you begin to see working on holiday in a positive light, you’re free to start thinking proactively about how you manage it in a way that ensures you have control over what you do and when and how you do it. Reaffirm these positive beliefs so that you can focus your time and efforts on managing expectations and planning your holiday work in the least intrusive way, rather than expending your energy on feeling resistant and resentful.

5. Plan your holiday work with your positive beliefs in mind.
If you are seeing working on holiday as your CHOICE, it means you also have the choice of  deciding ahead of time what work you plan to do on holiday. You are in control. This means you:

– tell those who work for you what support you need from them and in particular what they can expect from you.
– designate times in the day when you agree to be available.
– look at your open projects and determine which ones absolutely need your attention while you’re away, and which will survive until your return.
  be specific about the work you are going to do while away. Write a specific list about what absolutely needs to be done and, where possible, determine how much of your time it will take.
– let your partner/family/friends know ahead of time when you’ll need to work and for how long, so they can make alternative plans or look after the kids where necessary.
– plan your holiday activities so that they align rather than conflict with the work you have to do.
– give your friends/family  100% of your attention when you are not working –  i.e. do not check emails or take calls during designated work-free periods of time.


If you follow these tips, working when you’re away doesn’t have to mean ruining your holiday. Focus on the benefits, develop positive beliefs about it, and then take deliberate action to manage other people’s expectations (including your own) about how and when you will be available. In this way,  you’ll be able to preserve the integrity of your holiday and meet the challenges of your career at the same time.

Good luck – and happy holidays!

Don’t forget to tune into the Babyproof podcast for some interesting holiday listening.