5 Secrets To Making “Workations” Productive

One of the best things about building a technology company is the ability to work from much anywhere. One way to take advantage of this is to go on a “workation“. I took my first workation three years ago when I decided to spend six weeks in Canada over the summer. The plan was to work in the morning, enjoy the boat in the afternoon, and finish up anything at night. To my surprise it actually worked quite well. Since then I’ve done a half dozen and feel blessed to be able to live in a world where this is possible. Here’s some secrets I’ve learned along the way to make them productive.

1. Find A Great Location

To have a productive workation you need to find a place that not only has amazing sights and weather, but great internet and a place for you to work. Once you’ve decided on your destination, I would recommend using AirBNB or VRBO to find a real apartment or condo. Having your own place – instead of staying on a resort or hotel – will definitely help you stay focused on the “work” part of the day. Last year we did a week of Kiteboarding in Aruba, and this year (where I’m writing this from) we’re in Exuma, Bahamas. Both places have great internet and desks for Renee and I to work from.

2. Structuring Your Day

The plan is to get up get started early. If you’re looking to maximize your time, you’ll do start with something active, then get working on the most pressing projects. Here’s how I structure my day.

  • 6:30AM – Workout / Run
  • 7:30AM – 12PM (Noon): Team meetings, complete major projects, calls
  • 12PM – 6PM: Activities or just relaxing
  • 6PM-8PM: Dinner (In-house or nice restaurant).
  • 8PM – Bed: Emails, review projects, paperwork
There’s always exceptions to the schedule but in general this is schedule has proven the most engaging and productive.

3. Make Your Health A Priority

As I mentioned above, I like to start my day with a workout. If you’re in a place that warm, you’ll want to go out before the sun start beating down on you. One downfall I see happen many times on “vacation” is to let loose and eat like a pig. I actually take the opposite approach and leverage the time away to get back into a routine and feel good about my health. Kicking off your day with a workout also makes for a very productive morning.

4. Communicate With Your Team

Since I’m physically away from the office, I usually turn to Skype Video (1-on-1) or Google Hangouts for connecting with the team. Video lets everyone see you – which I feel is super important. I’m big on transparency and I don’t hide my schedule. If I’m going to be around in the morning, then gone surfing in the afternoon, then I tell them. Whenever possible I also try to keep up on emails so that I can help move things forward – even if I’m sitting by the pool.

5. Work Hard, Play Hard

The whole point of a workation is to work hard, and play hard. I’ve always been an adrenaline junky, so I’m trying to plan my trips around extreme sports. Either snowboarding, snowkiting or wakeboarding. I always opt-in to connecting with a local to fast track your experience and quickly get the lay of the land for the area you’re in. It might cost money, but it’s usually well worth it in the end.

Those fives secrets have helped me not only be more productive and see the world, but also come back to the office feeling recharged and not overwhelmed.  Will this scale once the family grows? I’m confident we’ll make it work.

Let me know if there’s any locations or tips I should consider for my next one!

  • Bguardia

    So like, why don’t you go to heck next time?

    • Henry Saenz

      ha ha ha txe Bruno

  • http://joeromeo.ca/ Joe Romeo

    Fantastic insights into a work/life balance that actually works.

    • http://twitter.com/danmartell Dan Martell

      Joe, I’ve never been one for balance .. to me work/life is the same thing and workations are ways of combining both and still getting stuff done + seeing the world.

      • http://joeromeo.ca/ Joe Romeo

        I’m sold, Dan. On past vacations, I have always found myself sneaking away to check emails, put out a fire, etc. With defined work & play time, the expectation is set up front. Now the tough part…selling my better half on the idea!! Looking forward to my 1st workation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vlad.ciurca Vlad Ciurca

    You should definitely try Romania somtimes and this is why: https://www.facebook.com/273.ro

    • http://twitter.com/danmartell Dan Martell

      Totally! I need to do more in Europe.

      • http://www.facebook.com/vlad.ciurca Vlad Ciurca

        If you plan to come here, just let me know and i’ll prepare a nice tour :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joep-Klunhaar/1278656622 Joep Klunhaar

        Yeah! Try Holland, it’s small but its… EXTREMEEE!!!

      • http://twitter.com/onlytenants David A Gray

        As a BOD for IFMA SIlicon Valley, I learned you can set up motion detection and figure out people are in their office seat for 10-15% of the 24 hour day. Our clients are shifting to more and more workations, and, productivity is rolling

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joep-Klunhaar/1278656622 Joep Klunhaar

    Seems like a nice way to live your life. Kinda miss the “structure” haha, but i’m going for it! Trying to a fix me a internship abroad, explore the world ofcourse! :)

  • http://twitter.com/jschim Jesse Schimmel

    Whistler Dan, do Whistler! Love the idea of a workation – thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    The wife and I have been talking about taking the kids out of school and go somewhere for a month each year where we can give the kids a great experience and where I can work. Having a furnished apartment/condo would be ideal and yes, great internet connection. But also for us we need a location where Robyn can go out with the kids and have some options for kids activities. We went to Mexico a few months ago for a week but staying at the hotel with bad internet connection wasn’t productive for me in the evenings after the kids went to bed. But with our kids, all they need is a beach and some shovels and that can fill up a morning quite nicely.

    What about you Dan, you still see yourself taking workations when babies start showing up? :D

  • http://twitter.com/GLsmoove Garrett Lauringson

    San Luis Obispo, CA – beautiful downtown with hiking trails a stroll away, 10 minutes from beautiful beaches, and halfway between SF & LA on the 101 with a relatively unknown but thriving tech/startup community

  • Duncan Gillespie

    Hey Joep Klunhaar,

    What kind of internship you looking for ?? http://www.eacsoft.com

    Awesome article by the way!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joep-Klunhaar/1278656622 Joep Klunhaar

      Hi Eacsoft,

      Funny, because I just stumbled upon this blog article again when I was googling myself. I wasn’t aware of your reply.

      Well i’m still looking for a Internship as a webdesigner. check out my portfolio http://www.joepklunhaar.nl

      So am I wanted by your company?

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.rodman.71 Richard Rodman

    Great article. This is going to come in handy the next vacation :)

  • http://twitter.com/newleafco Margaret Lukens

    A few years ago I rented a house in Edisto, SC through VRBO. I stayed 2 weeks, so I really had time to settle in (though a month would have been better.) My son came down from NYC for a couple of days, and a best childhood friend drove out for a visit. I was able to work, relax, get a change of perspective, and see family + friends who live across the country. And renting a house is way cheaper than staying at a hotel. This year I’m thinking to relocate for longer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270145401 Jonathan Le

    Great post. I do the same thing every couple of months!

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