This week I’m on vacation. Well, kind of.

I’ve taken the week off of work so that, combined with the weekends and the holiday this coming Monday, I have ten days in a row to… work.

Priority # 1: finish my current book manuscript and send it to my editor for review.

Other than getting a haircut (done), finding a dress for my sister’s upcoming wedding (done), and reading a fun book in the evenings (ongoing), this is what I planned to focus on over my “vacation” this week.

I’m currently a little behind schedule, but I’m still pleased with my progress. Tired, to be sure, but pleased.

With a side business, working vacations are both necessary and welcomed. Having uninterrupted time to complete larger projects feels luxurious after weeks or months of trying to squeeze in work in the early morning, evenings, or weekends. Some projects just require a bit more time and brain space.

I like to plan ahead for my working vacations so that I can be as productive as possible and really use the time well. Here are some things I do in advance:

  1. Clear my calendar. To the best of my ability, I try to keep my days as free as possible. I chose to keep a couple meetings on my calendar this week, but I’m using them as break times in between other work.
  2. Have 1–3 goals to accomplish. See my goal above.
  3. Break my goals down into action items. For this vacation I wrote down all of the tasks that it would take to complete the book. It’s always helpful for me to see what exactly I need to do next, written down, just waiting to be crossed off my list.
  4. Set goals for each day. I scheduled various tasks for each day, leaving an empty day for overflow or taking a day completely off if everything got done on schedule. Right now, I’m about two days behind because of certain tasks taking longer than I had planned, but I’m still making excellent progress.
  5. Grocery shop and cook. Early on, I went to the store and cooked some food that would be healthy and easy to assemble throughout the week. When my brain is focused on a big project like this, the last thing I want to worry about is what I should be eating.
  6. Build in rest periods. I planned each day to have rest periods. These might including reading, watching television, cooking meals, or running errands with my partner. So far, some days have had more rest than others, but I’m ending most days pretty tired. Creative work is always exhausting for me, but it usually means a good night’s sleep so that I’m well rested to begin again the next day.
  7. Schedule workouts. I recently hired a personal trainer (more on that here) and I have workouts scheduled for each day of my vacation alternating strength training, yoga, and running/walking. Scheduling workouts is essential since so much of my work involves sitting at a computer for long periods. Getting up and moving around has helped me be able to work for longer periods throughout the day.
  8. Plan for re-entry. I looked ahead to see what’s on my plate next week week after I come back from vacation and then prepped some tasks ahead of time for a successful easing back into my day-job after ten days away.

As of posting this, I’m seven days into this working vacation with three days to go. So far, I’ve been able to:

  • Finish drafting all the chapters of my book manuscript, including layering in relevant research citations throughout
  • Compile and print the manuscript (it’s about 240 pages right now)
  • Read the manuscript and make notes on revisions
  • Add revisions into the manuscript for all but one chapter
  • Complete a profile interview that was outstanding, write it up, and share it with the subject for revision and comment
  • Check all the glossary items in the manuscript to make sure they were actually mentioned somewhere in the book; add items to the book when needed

The manuscript should be completed very soon. All I have left to do is:

  • Revise the introduction (always the hardest part for me)
  • Check all the citations to ensure correct formatting
  • Check the formatting of the chapters to align with the publisher’s guidelines

Once these things are done, the book manuscript goes off to my editor with a few of my questions to guide his first reading. If he deems the manuscript ready, it will then go off to some outside reviewers for feedback and suggestions.

Having these ten days to work on the book and bring it to completion has been wonderful. It’s also been a time of fighting off a lot of fear since the book is so close to being shared with others. I’ve been reading Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing as motivation to keep going and I can highly recommend it.

For the next few days, I’ll take all the good writing vibes you’ve got.

To think on:

  • Do you ever take working vacations? Why or why not?
  • What big project are you tackling at the moment?