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4 ways to sneak in work on vacation

(MoneyWatch) I'm a big fan of taking time off, but let's face it: In the modern, connected world, it's hard to shove everything off your plate for a week or more. The flip side of being able to work any time and anywhere is that sometimes you need to plug in during down time. Simply checking in to find that your business didn't explode in your absence can help you enjoy your vacation more. Or maybe you'd like to use vacation time to think deeper thoughts about how you'd like your career to go.

Either way, you need to carve out some time for work. Here's how to do that with a minimum of disruption to the rest of your family who -- by the way -- deserve to see you too.

1. Use early mornings. If you've got older children (or no children), people often like to use vacations to sleep in. Forgo a bit of that, take your laptop to the hotel coffee shop or to a secluded room in your relative's house, and you've just bought yourself a few quiet hours before anyone wants to see you anyway.

2. Trade off with your spouse. If you've got young kids, each of you can take a shift. You cover a morning, perhaps, and use the afternoon to work while your partner has the little ones. This is time that the adult can do whatever he/she wants, so if your partner would rather run or get a massage than work, that's perfectly fine.

3. Volunteer to do the laundry. I'm currently writing this at a relative's house where we're staying. I'm getting all the laundry done -- and, incidentally, a lot of work -- while everyone else is off on an excursion I wasn't that enthusiastic about anyway.

4. Skip the movie. At least one night on any family vacation seems to involve watching TV. If necessary, you can sit with your laptop in the hotel bathroom while everyone else is watching The Lorax.

When do you work on vacation?

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