It’s that time of year when many people take vacation and get away from work for a bit. I’m going to join in, taking a few days off this week. I was off yesterday, with family in town for my middle son’s high school graduation.

The extended family is leaving, but this week my wife, kids, and I will take a few days in Steamboat Springs, looking to recharge and relax before everyone gets on with their busy summer.

I thought about taking a computer, maybe doing a little “fun” coding, but I think I’ve decided I’ll stick with a bike, a guitar, and just unwind in an unwired fashion this week.

As much as many of us like computers, it’s good to get away, and find something in your life that’s a change for a few days.

In and Out

Travel always causes issues with work. It was the same when I was a production DBA as it is now as editor and evangelist for Red Gate. The tasks I have to manage and complete don’t seem to ever be scheduled with the idea that I might be away from my desk.

I was off Monday with holiday and family celebrations (and the last ski day of the ’14-’15 season). I also leave Thur morning for SQL Saturday in Huntington Beach and will be gone until the weekend.

As an editor of what’s essentially a newspaper, the issues must go out regularly. That means that last week before I took time away I had to ensure that I had newsletters scheduled for Fri-Tue, as well as working on content for this week. That compresses the schedule of tasks, with more being done before I leave. Today I need to catch up things that occurred while I was gone, as well as prep for tomorrow and Thursday. I’ll also need to get enough done that I have things scheduled for Friday and Monday.

Time management can be hard, and over the last 10 years I’ve learned a few tricks to ensure I can handle the variety of tasks that come my way. What has worked for me is to take some of the lessons from the Boy Scouts and apply them to work.

Be Prepared

For those items I need regularly, I have learned to look ahead and always have a couple items prepared. This mainly means questions, articles, and editorials. Since I’m not sure what will happen in a week or two, my plan is always to hold a few items back and ensure I have at least a week’s worth of items planned.

Like my son works on merit badges, the other thing is to regularly work on items I need rather than wait until I need them. My son often completes a work requirement before he needs it. I may have to remind him, but he’s learning to adopt that on his own. I do the same thing at work, writing, editing, soliciting content before I have the actual need.

Vacation Isn’t Free

Perhaps it’s an American thing, but it seems that vacation is rarely a free gift of time away from work. Even when I worked at a job that was 9 to 5 and few hard deadlines, I still found the need to prep systems or people for my time away.

In addition to the daily work.

There are others on staff at SQLServerCentral that help me out and I really appreciate the time, but there still is an additional load for me to prepare to be away. It helps to tackle this like saving for vacation (or the future).

A little at a time. On a regular basis.

Closing Out the Winter Holiday Season

I’ve tried to write regularly about taking vacation and getting away from work to recharge. I haven’t always done a good job managing that in my life, but I’m hoping to inspire more of you to do better.

I’ve scheduled holiday for Friday and Monday over Easter weekend to take one last ski weekend for the 2014/2015 winter season. I’ve got family coming into town and we’ll have the chance to enjoy a little time as ski season comes to a close.

It’s been a decent, but not great ski season for me. I didn’t get as many days scheduled, or taken, as I’d have liked with a busy work and family life, but I can’t complain. Life has been good and I’m on a better pace to use up vacation this year than last.

A Week Away

Almost. I’m off this week in Steamboat Springs, enjoying a vacation with the family, but I’ve got one commitment: Database Weekly.

We rotate the workload, and most everyone else has something this month, so I got stuck with it. I didn’t want to try and mess up anyone else’s schedule, as we’re all on holiday, so I’m going to fit it in.

It will be short, so don’t be disappointed next weekend.

A Mini Break

I’m feeling pressure. As I get this post ready, I feel a bit of a buzz from the stress of prepping a number of different presentations for the next month. Quite a few are new, and that always has me worried.

I know that’s not good, and I’ve over committed myself a bit. Actually, my employer and I together have over committed me. There’s a lesson in here for next year, and I’ve already spoken to my boss on things we need to watch out for next year.

However I also need to fit in a few breaks here for my own sanity, and today is one of them. So everyone enjoy have a good day, and remember to take your vacation. That’s a lesson I’m trying to work on today.

One day in the office

I got back from SQL Intersection on Wednesday afternoon. I did work a bit, but not too much after traveling and speaking this week. Today I’m in the office, but only today.

Tomorrow I’m outside.

I have more vacation scheduled tomorrow, along with Monday and Tuesday. Given the nature of my job, that means I need to ensure things are prepped and scheduled for the next few days until I return next Wednesday.

It’s been a busy day. Some of my prep was done last week, but with three days in Las Vegas this week at SQL Intersection, I wasn’t completely prepared. I’ve been editing content, scheduling things, recording podcasts and more.

I’m almost done, which means I should get a good vacation. I should have the chance to start work on another project tomorrow: building a horse shelter.

Three Trips

I’m down to three trips, with most of my busy month behind me. It’s been a hard year at times, easy at others. This month I was in Vegas, LA, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Charleston, with one more trip to Vegas next week. The travel is hard, and in addition to wearing on me mentally, it compresses the rest of my time at work. That adds some stress, which bleeds over into family life for me. Some people separate well; I don’t.

That’s OK, Despite the hard travel, I’ve enjoyed seeing so many people I know and meeting new ones. Across the 11 talks I gave this month, I enjoyed them all. I met at least one new person at each, if not more, and had some great conversations.

Three trips left.

The next one is SQL Intersection in Las Vegas, which will be a fun trip as my wife is coming along. Then it’s Portland for a SQL in the City seminar and a SQL Saturday in November, and a repeat in Washington D.C. in December.

Plus vacation. I desperately need to take time off. Both for mental health, and because I’ve accumulated too much that needs to be used before the end of the year. After searching out a bit of balance last year, I didn’t do a good job this year, and need to pay more attention to things. I love my job, and I enjoy going to work, but the last month+ has been hard.

I’m just making a note here, partly to remind you to take your own time off from work, but also to warn you I might be gone in Nov/Dec a bit from work.



Recharge and Relax

My boss informed me a couple months ago that I had 30 days of vacation stored up and needed to take some. I mentioned this to my wife and she scolded me for not taking enough time off the last couple of years. Laughter ensued when I reminded her that she struggles to find even one day off every two week as she grows her horse training business. At least I take weekends off.

Most of the time.

I scheduled a few days in August and September, and enjoyed the time off, but I put off any more scheduling until I got another note from my boss two weeks ago saying I needed to schedule at least 16 days off before the end of the year. I’ve got a busy schedule, with 3 more trips between now and the end of 2013, along with a few other work commitments, so it’s hard to actually find that many days in my schedule. I somehow managed, and while it’s all in one and two day segments, I did schedule 17 days before the end of 2013.

I do know vacation is important. Life is short, and even though I really enjoy my job, I do need to get away and spend time living the rest of my life. It’s entirely too easy to get caught up working too many hours in the technology business, voluntarily or involuntarily. We need to make sure we take advantage of our time off and get away from the stress of our careers. I encourage each of you to make sure you are taking your vacation each year and getting time away from work.

This starts tomorrow, with two days off this week, and continues through November and December. As a result, I’ll be gone quite a bit through the end of the year. I’ve got a few guest writers and some re-runs, and I hope that people still enjoy the newsletter each day. If not, let me know, and we’ll make better plans for next year.

Steve Jones

As a side note, I’ve had 4 friends pass away in the last 3 years. All were under 50 years of age. Life is truly short.

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Time Off

I’m booking vacation. I know I recommend balance, and tell people to take vacation, and that I’m bad at it. My wife is right there with me. I’m not sure who’s worse, but we both struggle to make time away from work. It’s good and bad. We enjoy our careers, but we do need time away.

My boss told me a few months ago that I had 30 days on the books. I can carry 5 and sell 5, so I needed to take some time off this fall. I did manage to book 4 or 5 days, but I heard from her last week that I still needed to take at least 16 more.


Today I went through the calendar, looked at commitments, and decided to take some time off. No full weeks, since my schedule makes that hard. Long periods away from work end up compressing my work into before/after days, which I don’t like. I also have DBW commitments that are hard to move since they impact others.

However I have a list of 17 days to take off in 1 and 2 day increments.