Woman working on vacation

Is this you? It’s not how I look while on vacay, but the laptop is a frequent accessory.

Have you ever worked on your vacation? I’m embarrassed to admit that I do. Since I started working for myself, I’ve struggled to separate my work and home life. They both seem to bleed into each other on a regular basis. I used to beat myself on every trip when I realized I’d have to  spend a few hours tending to projects.

Working on vacation

I recently polled a diverse group of working mothers and was shocked to discover that I wasn’t alone. The majority of these moms also work on their vacation. While some of them were freelancer/consultant types like me, many worked at companies. While it was almost everyone’s intention to never bring work along, many times it’s unavoidable.

Man yelling at computer

Me, pretty much every day.

Working on your vacation

Upon more research, I discovered 61% of Americans plan to work on their vacation and some business gurus think using an out of office email message is not only outdated, but a major CLM. (If you have a “big C” career, either you or your assistant should be checking in.) And Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, recommends doing a bit of work each day so that you appreciate your downtime more.

Blackberry poolside

Don’t drop the Blackberry!

After realizing I was not alone in bringing work with me on vacation, I forgave myself. I try hard (and do a pretty good job) of finishing up projects prior to any trip I take. Unfortunately, in my line of work, I can’t control when an editor is going to throw back an article for rewrites or when a great idea is going to pop into my head. (Even Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, feels no guilt in scribbling down ideas on her church program during the Sunday worship service she attends.)

While I’m not advocating people work on holiday, I do think we need to cut ourselves some slack. In today’s wired world, it’s hard to unplug. Should we make strides to? Absolutely! Should we shame ourselves or others for trying to keep up? I don’t think so.

Do you bring work with you on your vacation? Do you feel guilty about it?