I recently put an entire ocean between me and my public relations company. It was my first trans-Atlantic vacation since becoming an entrepreneur three years ago. It was the most unplugged and unavailable I've been from work and clients.
I returned jet lagged but energized. It's important to recharge; that's when new ideas have time and space to take root.
Here's how I pulled off a European vacation with my family and didn't miss a beat with my clients. Of course, every entrepreneur is different and so is each company. I hope my ideas will work for you or spark ideas for other strategies to make taking a big break no big deal.
1. Commit to it and just book it.
My husband and I booked our trip 10 months out, because we had airline miles we wanted to use. Booking this far in advance had the added advantage of us -- me -- committing to the vacation and not overthinking it. I wondered how I'd step away from the business, but at the same time I felt exhilarated.
2. Kick up the client service.
I worried what my clients would think about my taking off and being rather unavailable for more than a week. I don't have account executives. It's me. All me. So after I booked my trip, I felt like I had to step up what I believe is my already excellent client-centric game. The last thing I wanted was for my clients to not miss me.
3. Plan, plan, plan.
Closer to vacation time -- about three months out -- I identified the projects I could tackle and complete ahead of time, the clients that would need attention while I was away and the unanticipated events that might arise. I then worked hard to meet self imposed deadlines on the work I would handle myself.
And I found and trained a trusted contractor I'd worked with before. Sure enough, on the second night of my trip I got an email (yes, I did check emails) from a reporter who wanted comments from a client for a story. My colleague was ready to go. This planning will pay off down the road, as well. I already needed to find help in order to grow my business.
4. Tell your clients.
Don't be afraid to tell your clients about your vacation. Have all the confidence. First, everyone deserves time to rest and recharge. Second, you've been proving your worth day in and day out. Finally, you have a plan for how clients will be taken care of; share that with them, too. Because I had worked to establish great client relationships and done all the planning, I felt really good and excited about my trip.
5. Tame the email.
This tip is more about how you want to spend your first day back from vacation. I knew my email box would be wild, so I made sure it was empty when I left it. Earlier this year, I wrote about the joy of the empty email in box and knew I would want to get back to it ASAP after vacation. Likewise, on a personal note, this is why I wash and fold all the laundry before jetting off somewhere. It's all about me setting myself up to maximize relaxation and reduce stress.
So, here's to you and your next vacation. I'm already dreaming of mine.