One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is feeling the need to constantly remain connected.
When you're building a company, it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling as though you "always need to be there." And considering we now live in a digital culture dominated by platforms constantly dinging in the pocket, it's no wonder stepping away from work is becoming harder than ever. From LinkedIn messages to Slack chats, texts, emails, and client calls, keeping the calendar clear is no easy feat.
And yet, time away is absolutely essential for long-term success.
There's a famous quote that says, "Failing to prepare means preparing to fail." In the case of entrepreneurship, these words couldn't be truer. However, there are things you can do ahead of time that will allow you the space and ability to fully step away from the day-to-day demands of the company--so that you can clear your head and recharge.
Here are three things you should do before your next vacation to ensure you get the undisturbed time away you really need:
1. Put someone else in charge.
One of the biggest challenges founders and company leaders face is letting go of the reigns, even for just a moment.
Unfortunately, this is not a successful long-term strategy. Building a company takes hard work, and in order to play the long game, it's essential that you build leaders within the organization you can trust to steer the ship while you're away for a few days.
One of the best things you can do before you take some time away is to clearly define who will be in charge of what, and who team members can go to if they have questions. If you're typically the one who checks in with the sales team, give that responsibility to someone else you trust for the time being. If you're the one who helps onboard new clients, train an account manager to be able to step up and take the lead.
The sooner you can put people in place to handle the same day-to-day responsibilities that would otherwise be on your place, the faster you'll be able to scale the entire organization--and ultimately, step away for a few days without feeling guilty.
2. Clear your schedule ahead of time.
Every founder lives by the phrase, "If it's not on the calendar, it doesn't happen."
Well, the same goes for vacation time and travel in general. The sooner you put it on the calendar and make it clear you won't be available during those dates, the easier it will be to protect that time. However, if you wait until the week before to let your team and clients know, you'll end up having to either reschedule things last minute, or take calls while you're supposed to be disconnected from work.
This is a big mistake a lot of founders make, and it almost always stems from feeling like they can't or shouldn't step away. Again, they feel "guilty."
But look, everyone needs time away--and the best entrepreneurs will respect you for taking time to clear your head. So, put it on the calendar, give everyone plenty of time to know in advance that you'll be gone, and stick to it.
3. Set a clear intention for the trip you're taking.
Traveling is like a morning routine: if you go to bed unsure of how you're going to start the next day, you're most likely going to wake up reacting to the day--opposed to directing it.
The same goes for travel.
If you go into a trip with the mindset, "I might work, I might not, we'll see," then you're almost always going to revert into "work mode," because that's what's easiest and most familiar. When you're an entrepreneur, it's stepping away that's the real challenge, and in order to do that, you have to make that your primary intention. You have to go into your work trip knowing that a few notifications and emails will probably catch your eye, and you'll feel compelled to jump back into the driver's seat--and you'll have to catch yourself and remember why you felt this trip was so important for you to take.
Without a clear intention, you'll fall into the same everyday habits again.
So, put someone else in charge, lock in this time away on your calendar, and constantly remind yourself why you decided to take this trip in the first place.