The sun is out…finally… and the kids are out of school. Everyone in the family is bugging you to take some time off and the only thing you can think about is all the things that you have to do at work. Even entrepreneurs need to take time off and and its important that you do.
One of the hardest things that I had to do as a business owner was to take a family vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my family but as an entrepreneur with a crazy schedule and deadlines that need to be met, it can be difficult to take time off. Whenever I travel, I basically have to take a mobile office with me…computer, printer, spreadsheets…the works. Just because I am not at work doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do. It takes a very coordinated effort on my part along with my team to make it happen.
Here are a few things that you can do to make sure your time off actually happens and doesn’t kill your business:
Plan ahead. Your employees probably already have their summer vacations scheduled. Take a hint from them and put some downtime for yourself on your calendar too. Blocking off vacation days now will help you avoid scheduling conflicts during those dates. If you can’t manage a week off at once, try taking a long weekend each month. You’d be surprised what it can do for your mental health.
Prepare your team. Even longer vacations such as a week or more can be managed as long as you have the help of your staff. Now’s the time to get them ready to take over some of your duties while you’re gone. This may be hard for you to do, but letting go of some tasks (at least temporarily) will give your employees a sense of accomplishment at learning something new and gaining more responsibility. Who knows? When you come back from your vacation, you may decide to leave some duties on your employees’ plates instead of taking them back. That was a very pleasant discovery for me and it also helped me learn they were more capable than I gave them credit for.
Prepare your customers. Most customers will be quite understanding of your need to take time off—after all, they take vacations too! Let them know well in advance so you can either get projects wrapped up before you leave or postpone them until you get back. If neither of those options work, introduce your customer to the employee who’ll be handling their project until you get back, giving them time to get to know each other first. A little preparation and advance planning will go a LONG way.
Enlist The Aid of Technology
Use apps. There’s an app for nearly everything these days. Make sure your smartphone and/or tablet are loaded up with the apps you need, that you’ve got all your passwords (use a password manager for this. I prefer Dashlane but there are many to choose from) and that you’re armed with chargers and spare batteries to keep you ready to work on the road if you have to. If you are traveling abroad, make sure you bring a converter. I bring a converter and a power strip…there never seems to be enough outlets. One time, while on vacation in Italy, we had just checked in to our first hotel on our first day and I plugged in my “value” converter and blew out the electricity to our entire floor…twice! Invest in good quality tech items or you may pay the price! You may never need to use these items on your vacation, but just knowing you have them will give you peace of mind. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Know Yourself and be honest. Choose a vacation that’s realistic for the way you work. You might want a week off the grid beyond reach of cell phone towers and civilization (this can be glorious and nerve wracking at the same time). Or you might break out in hives at the mere thought of 10 minutes without Wi-Fi or a cell signal. If being able to keep in touch with the office makes you feel better, then choose a vacation spot where you can access the technology you need without stressing out. You are supposed to be relaxing, after all. Try these tips for working without going crazy while on vacation.
Just do it. Even if you’re prepared to work on vacation, try your hardest to unplug for at least part of each day, NO EXCUSES! If you can’t let go of work, you won’t get the full benefits of time away and you will very likely upset your family who has probably been looking forward to spending time with you. Limit email or phone check-ins to once a day and have your team contact you only in emergencies (be sure to define what an emergency is).
I’ve gotten some of my best ideas on vacation. Sometimes you need to step away to gain some much needed perspective. You can’t burn the candle at both ends indefinitely. Who knows? You could have your next big idea while lying on the beach or traveling through Europe.