While working on what’s supposed to be a relaxing summer vacation is usually a big nope when it comes to establishing and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, there are legit instances where you might need to make yourself available to help your team or your business. This might happen when you’ve planned time off well in advance but want to be part of an exciting project when it’s actually time to go, when you’re taking an agreed upon “hybrid vacation” that doesn’t use PTO but allows you to work while traveling, or when you run your own show and have a responsibility to keep your employees and clients in the loop. No matter why you’re working in the middle of your vacation, there are a few smart strategies you can use to make sure you GSD while still scoring some R&R or seeing the sights.

A woman uses a laptop from the back of a camper van on a beach

1. Craft a helpful out-of-office message. You likely work with others who can pitch in to lend a hand while you’re away, whether it’s for a few days or a few weeks. To make your vacation easier for everyone, write a truly communicative auto-reply for your email that clearly notes who is responsible (and reachable) in instances when you would usually play point-person. To top it off, outline the timeframe you’ll be gone and when you expect to check in or be in touch next. Simply setting expectations can save stress; even more, people will appreciate knowing when they’ll hear from you next.

2. Schedule dedicated work time on your personal and team calendars. Will you be working on a single project or handful of things while you’re away? Prioritizing your tasks and deliverables will help you stay on track and deliver high-quality work. Plan your working schedule at least as seriously as you do in the office or during a day at your desk: Use your calendar to block out chunks of time where you can hunker down to work without any distraction from your BFFs, S.O., or vacation destination. (Even the most strong-willed person can fall victim to poolside treats or a spontaneous night out!) Not only will staying dedicated ease your personal anxiety, but it’ll also remind your coworkers and your boss how much you care, along with how reliable you are in any situation.

A woman sits at a table on a balcony surrounded by greenery

3. Set specific times to respond to email. If you absolutely must work while on vacation, chances are that managing your inbox will play a big part in it. Protect your energy and mental health by setting up (and sticking with) a specific time each day to check in and respond to messages, then communicate that email schedule to your team, clients, vendors, or partners before you’re officially out. To ensure your downtime isn’t interrupted, ditch distractions by temporarily disabling email notifications from automatically showing up on your phone. Without the constant ping of push notifications, you’ll retain control of when you want to think about work.

4. Treat your downtime as seriously as you do your work. It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking vacation days or managed to earn approval for a work/hybrid type of getaway: You deserve the downtime you’ve planned and should take it as seriously as you the commitment you made to your boss to get specific things done while you’re away. When you don’t have work plotted out, make the most of your time away without feeling pangs of guilt. Whether you’re enjoying sunrise yoga, sipping drinks at sunset, or bonding with family, protect that personal time fiercely to reward yourself for a job well done.

Have you worked on vacation? Tweet us how you managed to stay productive while having fun @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)