It’s summer. The sun is shining. The beach is calling. The soft, blue water of the bay is dotted with laughing tourists and playful kids.

Unfortunately, you’re missing all of it because you’re spending eight or more hours a day inside, watching the summer go by instead of enjoying it.

But guess what?

You don’t have to miss it.

Just because you’re too busy to take a vacation doesn’t mean you can’t take a workation. Why spend July in your office when you could spend it at a cottage on a lake, or at an exotic beach?

Not only will you be having way more fun, you might also become more productive. Being in a new location gives you a new sense of perspective, gets your creative juices flowing, and can decrease your stress levels.

The two kinds of workations

A workation is when you’re on vacation and working at the same time. This can be either very good or very bad.

The bad kind: this is when you’re forced to bring work along on a planned vacation. Instead of taking your much-needed break and recharging your batteries for a week or two, you’re not really on holiday at all. Your work is keeping you from spending time with your family, and you find yourself flooded with emails and unable to put your phone and computer away.

6153578409_0f7b92fbe5_b Photo credit: Giuseppe Savo cc

Instead of coming back from your vacation destressed and filled with new creative energy, you’ll probably just feel as fatigued and worn out as before. In a previous blog post, Sandglaz CEO Nada Aldahleh stressed the importance of taking not only a physical break, but a mental one too.

The good kind: this is when you’re doing the same work you usually do, but in a cool, exotic locale. We previously wrote about Fresh Tilled Soil and their paid workations: in 2012, they started sending top performers to cool places like Costa Rica or the Dominican Republic, all expenses covered. Their only requirement? That team members would do the same work they usually would at home - then have as much fun as possible after work.

Richard Branson also saw the value in combining fun and work: back when Virgin Records was starting up, he used to regularly go on team vacations to the West Indies to try to find up-and-coming reggae bands - and of course, to sample the local cuisine.

In this day and age, it is possible to do more and more jobs from a remote location. The result? More people get the opportunity to travel the world without sacrificing their careers.

While freelancers and entrepreneurs have been taking ‘workations’ for years, more nine-to-fivers are now taking advantage of the flexibility offered by developing technology. If all you need is working Wi Fi and a phone connection to do your job, then why stay at the office?

Tony Vlismas has been combining work with vacations for years. As a senior marketing director, he has embraced the idea of a flexible workplace. When he worked for Voltari, he designed the company’s new logo in a beautiful oceanside café in Greece. He’s now the senior director of marketing at Polar Mobile, and still delights in finding new locations in which to do his work.

“None of my bosses ever cared where I got the job done, as long as I got it done”, says Mr. Vlismas. “There’s nothing that says I can’t have fun while I’m working”.

Our advice is you should take a workation too. Here are our 4 tips for having a successful workation:

Delegate: leave your team in charge

After all, you can’t do everything yourself. If you aren’t already sharing responsibility for important and time-consuming tasks with your teammates, you should probably start doing so now. Maintaining a balanced workload is key for you to be able to work effectively, creatively, and with single focus.

Not only that, it also provides more flexibility in your work. If you’ve been collaborating with a team member on a project for every step of the way, you’ll still have all your bases covered if one of you is away from the office for a week or so.

How to easily delegate: Use a task management tool to organize your tasks and share them with other team members. With its grid feature, Sandglaz allows you to share projects with your team members and thus facilitates collaboration, even when you’re working from another location.

Taking a workation is an opportunity for you to give more responsibility to your team members and give them space to grow. Doing so is a way of building mutual trust. In the end, your team will be more independent and stronger for it.

Schedule yourself

For you to take a workation and have it be worth it, you want to work efficiently for a period of the day, and then spend the rest of it exploring and relaxing.

So eat the frog first: do your work in the morning. Get up at the same time you would on a regular workday and spend a few solid hours focusing on your most important tasks.

With your task manager, you can plan which tasks and subtasks you’ll focus on and set yourself a deadline for the time you want to finish. When that time comes, turn off your computer and simply enjoy the rest of the day.

Did you bite off more than you could chew and not complete your to-do list before your deadline? Sandglaz will automatically move your uncompleted tasks to the next day for you so that you don’t have to worry about tasks getting left behind.

Clear boundaries are essential for you to be able to both work and relax. And indeed, your time relaxing is valuable to your time working; in that state when you’re not focused on a specific task or routine, you’re more likely to come up with new ideas. You all of a sudden have the time to think about the big picture.

So, keep a pen and a pad of paper handy in your down-time in case you get a sudden burst of inspiration and want to jot down your new idea.

Let your coworkers and customers know when you’ll be available

Since you probably won’t be reachable throughout the whole day, the key to having your working vacation be a success is to communicate your availability as clearly as possible, with both your team members and customers. Before you leave, let customers know that you’ll be away for a certain amount of time and that your responses might be slower.

With your team members, it does wonders for them to know exactly when they can get a hold of you, even if the time period isn’t very long. Mr. Vlismas always made sure people knew he’d be online “in the same cafe working for an hour and a half every day”. For the rest of the day, he’d work offline.

Take a real vacation too

Our last tip to you, office workers and workation enthusiasts alike, is to also take a real vacation! At some point, you need to give yourself a complete mental break. While combining work and vacation is a great way to enjoy the perks of both, you should at least once a year also go on a trip where you don’t bring your computer with you, you don’t need to check your email, and you don’t need to work on a deadline.

Vacations are good for us. They are good for our wellbeing, our mental health, and our creativity. They help us keep our stress levels down, and can help us avoid or recover from burnout.

For a break to have a lasting positive effect, it’s not enough to get away for a long weekend. When Sandglaz CEO Nada Aldahleh wrote about the importance of taking a vacation, she stressed the importance of it being at least 10 days long.

Lastly: if this summer you find yourself unable to take a proper vacation or a workation, you can still take a break, wherever you are.

Photo credit: bobbyfiend cc