When You Work at Home, Summer Taunts You
by Stephanie Lee

Entrepreneur Stephanie Lee’s monthly guest column for self-employed travel agents often focuses on issues related to working from home.

Summer is almost here. Does that fill anyone else with dread?

Summer means sunshine, beautiful weather, the buzz of energy. What’s to hate about that?

The taunting. I swear, summer taunts me.

The weather is perfect for a walk – yet work needs to be done. Or it’s so hot that my mind tells me humans weren’t meant to do anything but swim on a day like this – yet my inbox says, “Tough luck.”

Stephanie Lee
lee

Summertime makes me conflicted, torn between work and play.

Serious distractions
Some work-at-home travel agents who are reading this have families, and your situation is completely different than mine. You’re not torn between work and an afternoon at the beach. You’re trying to figure out how to get your work done with the kids under foot.

Sorry, I can’t be much help (my dog isn’t in school yet).  However, we do share this common ground. Something – be it the nice weather, kids at home or the summer slow season – has ruffled our regular routine. And we are facing some serious distractions from work.

Where’s the accountability?
When I worked in an office, peer pressure kept me at my desk. OK, the threat of being fired if I didn’t show up in June, July and August also weighed heavily in my decision to punch in to work on beautiful days.

Now that I’ve got my own company, there’s nothing but self-discipline between me and a glorious lazy day of reading a book on the porch or just flitting about.

I can be pretty suave when it comes to convincing myself that work can wait, while beautiful days can’t.

That’s why I dread summer. It challenges my boundaries – far, far more than year-round work-at-home distractions like the laundry.

Here are a few ways to avoid the inner conflict that summer serves up to those of us who work at home or are our own boss.

Take vacation days
Now that I’m self-employed, it’s easy to forget to take time off. There’s no HR alerting me that I need to use my vacation time.

While we all take days off here and there, it’s important to make a conscious effort to take a stretch of time off – a real vacation.  (And, by the way, a fam trip is not a vacation. )

Too much play?
If there’s one thing I know about small business owners, almost across the board they are atrociously bad at taking vacations. So, if you’re wondering if you’ve taken too much time off already, I’m going to tell you the answer is probably no.

Ramp up – or relax
There’s a reason some companies have half-day Fridays in the summer. It’s less busy. For most of us, summer is a slower time, with a reduced workload.

You need to make a decision. Do you want to use the slower summer season as a time to ramp up for fall? Or are you comfortable enough with where your business is at to give yourself a more relaxed summer?

Deciding this ahead of time will help you set your expectations and boundaries.

Cash in on the freedom
Every business owner and independent contractor has taken a leap of faith, knowing there are potential risks.

We also know there are rewards.

It turns out, being your own boss is one heck of a reward on a 75-degree and sunny day. Cash in on that. You deserve it!

Stephanie Lee operates Host Agency ReviewsSM, which features agent reviews of host agencies and tips for starting and growing a travel agency. Connect with Steph on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

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Tip of the Day

We stopped taking the bargain hunters and focused on the complex FITs and river cruises. It happened naturally; the business you take is the business you make, I believe. When we learned to say no to what we didn't want, our requests turned into the kind we were saying yes to every time.

Heather Christopher
Travel Consulting

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