LakeSummer is always a great time for “Working from a Nicer Place” and I am back up at the cottage for the fifth time since I first wrote about it at Easter. Then, the ice was just dissolving from the lake. Now, it is baking hot in the sun and the lake is a very “swin-able” temperature.

It is just after 7am, the coffee is brewing and I am sitting on the deck overlooking the water with my laptop turned on. I have already cleaned up the email I received yesterday afternoon and I will shut my computer down soon as others are awake and another day at the cottage will begin.

On the drive north with my oldest daughter, we were discussing her first five months of work in her first fulltime, permanent job. Yes, after six years of university, she is officially off my payroll and on someone else’s. She was telling me that she worked 80 hours of overtime in June because it is their busy season and already her boss is suggesting that she needs to develop a better work-life balance. Last week, she put an entry on my calendar at work reserving the phone at the cottage for a conference call this week, so that she and I would not double book the phone.

To some, this may seem like a stupid way to live life. Over my career, I have learned that people seem to fit into two vacation types. Some people on vacation must completely disconnect in order to relax. They must switch off for a week or two and then deal with the piles of email awaiting them when they return. On the other hand, there are people like me who can’t disconnect completely. The very thought of 500 unopened emails awaiting my return is enough to ruin the whole vacation. So, over the last 30 years, I have developed the theory of “Working from a Nicer Place” and the ability to turn on, deal with a work-related issue, and then turn off and get back to vacation.

Another way to think about vacation is that I start vacation Easter weekend when the ice goes out and end it at Thanksgiving when we close the cottage. In between, I am on vacation, except when I am working. I work for a couple of months in October and November when the weather is crappy. Ski season starts in mid-December and once again, I am in vacation mode, taking time out to work during the week. In April, the snow melts and then it is back to the cottage.

Obviously, I am being a bit tongue and cheek about my work year, but the point is that work, like vacation, is a mental state that you can control. If you love doing both, it is very easy to intermix them without adding any stress. For my daughter, like me, it is easier to dial into a two hour conference call, deal with the issues at hand and then get back to vacation versus preparing someone else to represent you at the meeting and potentially having to later deal with the consequences of the meeting not going in the direction you wanted. She, also like me, loves her job, including its frustrations and challenges. Once the conference call ends, she will be canoeing on the lake a few minutes later, back on vacation.

© 2011 Meaford Group

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