It's never a good time to take time off. I'm pretty terrible at vacations in general. And yet, faithful readers will notice that I haven't written here in a week, which is a long time for me - that's practically a vacation!
One of the consequences of being a consultant and having several clients it that someone's almost always on a deadline. If client A just got through a big push (and is now taking a collective few days to decompress), that's frequently when client B is just facing down a big deadline. It makes scheduling vacations... tricky.
So I take selective vacations.
A selective vacation is a vacation... from part of my life. This past week it was a vacation from my blog. Sometimes it's a vacation from a client, or not starting a contract immediately. Sometimes it's a vacation from writing articles. Sometimes it's a vacation from cooking dinner! And sometimes it's a vacation from being home - I spent last week in California visiting family and working.
There are a lot of benefits to a vacation: a change in routine can spark new ideas; getting away can stave off any potential burnout; health benefits accrue from lowering stress on vacation; fun vacation photos or stories spark conversations with your coworkers. At least for me, vacations also provide an appreciation of routine (I do like my routine!). I get a lot of these benefits from a selective vacation - it sparks creativity, and gets me out of a routine temporarily. I also find it very relaxing - not only do I not have all the normal pressures and deadlines, but I'm doing enough work that I don't get stressed over missing important client calls or deadlines.
The point is that if you're like me and find it hard to stop everything and take a vacation, then don't. Take a selective vacation. It offers a lot of the same benefits of a real vacation, but it's a lot more doable.