For New Orleans businesses, the running joke is that you might as well shut down for the week prior to Mardi Gras day. Your staff, clients, and customers are getting giddy about their costumes, sugar highs from king cake are the norm, and traffic is atrocious with parades rolling daily starting the Wednesday prior through Fat Tuesday. Needless to say, folks in New Orleans are a little distracted this time of year
Folks outside of New Orleans tend to imagine nights of gluttony, debauchery, and excess. But as a native, much of my Mardi Gras is spent dancing at neighborhood parades with my friends’ kids and taking comical amounts of time to costume. As a business owner who has clients around the country, I strive to balance my excitement about my favorite time of year with an awareness of the Mardi Gras stereotypes clients may have.
As such, I’m responsive to client communication up until the Friday before Mardi Gras every year, after which I schedule an out of office message. Unfortunately, with two small projects on deadline, I had to break my own rule. Here’s how I snuck some last minute work into Saturday Mardi Gras festivities before committing fully to the revelry:
8:00 Having been up until midnight working on costumes, I opted to sleep in a bit. I checked my email in bed (a habit I’m trying to break) and made a mental note to remind my intern that she does not need to work during the holiday.
My Texan best friend Bryan is an honorary New Orleanian, celebrating his 6th consecutive Mardi Gras with me. He drove in from Dallas the night before, so we caught up over breakfast before we both spent an hour at our laptops. With the windows open, we enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather and watched folks in their costumes walking to the parade route.
10:30 Bryan and I switched gears to focus on costume shopping for a few hours. Strolling the streets with another friend, the whole neighborhood was buzzing with carnival spirit.
Via text, I nudged my fantastic and eager intern to enjoy the Mardi Gras revelry and not to work. Her playful “yes ma’am” made me feel like I was setting a solid “do as I say, not as I do” example, but c’est la vie. I was nearing completion on my remaining projects, just in time for the parade festivities.
12:30 Costumes finalized, there were a few remaining emails from out-of-state clients to address.
I’m producing a conference that's just under a month away, so email communication with keynote speakers about PR and travel logistics is fairly time sensitive. I provided the necessary short-term information along with a note that I'd be away from my desk through Tuesday.
I spent a few final minutes wrapping up projects so I could be fully present for the next three days. With all of my work behind me, I got into my costume and headed out to the parade route.
10:30 I crawled in bed after a full and delightful day. I ran into friends from high school, spent quality time with Bryan and my mom, and raced around after my friend's two-year-old. I went to sleep thankful to be finished with my work and excited about three more days of carnival adventure.
If anyone needs me, holler on Wednesday.
A version of this piece was originally published by Forbes.