For those still pursuing an education, hot temperatures, sticky humidity, and travelers caravanning about the country on their way to beaches and resorts brings excitement and a sense of relief from months of hard work. Yet for the business owner, summer break is much shorter than the classical June through August. For some, it might be as short as a single week. This being so, it is absolutely critical that the most is made out of your budgeted time. For the sake of maintaining quality mental health and work satisfaction, we must do what is today’s interpretation of impossible: relax.
If someone hasn’t told you this recently, allow us to: It is okay to take time off when you need it. According to Laura Greenland of Ebb and Flow Grow Creative Business Coaching, “I think there can be an unhealthy perception that you need to ‘earn’ holidays as an entrepreneur. I’ve had a few clients say they’ll book a holiday once they’ve hit a certain income or client goal. This is a toxic mindset – you need rest and recharging time at all stages of the entrepreneurial journey, not just when you hit certain milestones.”
It is simply not realistic these days to approach vacation time with a “drop everything and go” mindset. Time is best used when it is scheduled and when the day-to-day can be anticipated. As with all other events filling your agenda, block out time for your vacation and get it on the calendar. Time off must be treated with the same gravity as a meeting or a business trip, otherwise, it will become something that you will easily find yourself pushing off to the next day, then the next, and the next…
But not in this case! Let’s say that you have scheduled a vacation that is set to begin in one week and you are sticking to it. The best vacation is going to be one where you don’t feel underlying anxiety regarding how your business is going to function without you in-office. Although you will be offline, remember that your employees and clients will not be. It is your job as a business leader to prepare your team and clientele for your departure and ensure that they have the materials and information they need to function in your absence. You must also define boundaries in regards to them contacting you.
“I prepare a full handover document for my team to ensure there are no unanswered questions left on the table that might result in me getting hassled for something small. I’m very clear with both my team and my clients what constitutes an emergency, and what really doesn’t. I uninstall all of my business-related and social media apps during my time off and don’t use my laptop at all to avoid any temptation to dip back in,” Greenland said.
It is key that when you are preparing your team, especially when letting them know when and how they should be contacting you during your break, that you do so with a sympathetic mindset. Do not give them a heads-up a day before you hit the road. Give them an adequate time in advance to prepare so that they are not overwhelmed suddenly by your leave. Be careful with your choice of words in order to not put pressure on them or induce anxiety, but instead display your confidence in them and let them know that you have full faith in their abilities to keep the gears turning. Knowing that your team feels assured and strong going into your break will help you to relax and reduce the frequency of your mind slipping back into “work mode.”
Remember also that members of your team will likely be taking on added tasks to account for your absence for the duration of your vacation and this is deserving of gratitude. So, let them know! Tell your team that you appreciate them and their willingness to step up. This will help to foster a healthy mindset regarding taking time off in your company—those taking a break will feel a thankfulness for their coworkers’ efforts during their leave and those staying in office will know that they are appreciated for those efforts. You set the example, so make it a positive one.
“Every time I went on holiday during my corporate job before running my own business, I would be constantly checking on my team and they would often contact me for small queries because they knew I wasn’t fully switched off. This comes down to a lack of boundaries and not setting the right expectations. I also used to find it impossible to delegate, which is something I’ve really developed as I’ve become more experienced. I know I need to have confidence in people, so building an empowered team in my own business is something that I’m really prioritising,” Greenland said.
Let’s boil it down to a simple checklist you can refer to when you feel the need for some time away:
- Get your vacation dates marked down on your calendar.
- Draft a handover document for your team and, if applicable, clientele, preparing them for your departure.
- Get your team, and clientele, informed on what constitutes an emergency that would warrant them contacting you.
- Prepare an out-of-office auto response for your email inbox (as well as text messages if you utilize a work phone) and schedule it to go live on the first day of your vacation.
It is high time that you recognize the importance of treating vacation time with as much respect and gravity as you would a business engagement. You do not need to hit a significant milestone to feel as though you have earned time away. Communicate with your team, be kind and sympathetic, and place your faith in your employees. Your business functions as a team of individuals with busy lives and even as the team’s leader, you too are subject to the stress of the day-to-day. You too are also qualified for time to step away.