Everyone needs a little R&R (rest and relaxation) every now and then--yes, even you, busy business owners. In fact, taking a few days to yourself or to your family will likely have significant effects on your overall well-being. Gallup recently published a study that confirms what many of us already know: taking regular vacations boosts our well-being. Well-being for Gallup means high ratings related to things like sense of purpose, financial security, relationships, community connections, and physical health. There is even a correlation between vacation time and positive health effects on the brain and heart.
This trend is across income lines, so even where you can't afford to leave the country or take a luxury cruise, a more cost-friendly vacation, like camping or visiting family, can have the same positive effects. However, those with lower incomes are less likely to make vacationing a priority, and only about half of Americans on the whole are taking regular vacations.
Business owners and entrepreneurs are notorious for failing to take vacations, which could be because they do not want to "waste" precious time or money. If you plan effectively, however, you can take a "spendy" vacation on a budget, and because of the health and well-being benefits of vacation, they are never a waste of time. The following is a list of quick tips to help you take your vacation whether your budget is large or small:
- Start planning early.
This is the easiest and best strategy to implement--when you plan ahead, you can get all of the rest pieces in place long before you actually leave for your trip. If you haven't started planning yet though, there's still time. Start planning NOW for your vacation this summer, and you'll have a lot more options available to you. You can nail down a date without any meetings that are already scheduled interfering. Airfare and hotels are usually cheaper when you book early. If you have all of the details nailed down early, you can also create a specific budget for your vacation. This will give you time to set aside some funds if needed.
- Put some thought into the timing of your vacation.
Vacationing in the off-season will be cheaper in almost every location. For example, summer is usually more expensive because kids are out of school. However, you should also think of your business' off-season. Do you tend to have more business in the winter months? If so, then avoid vacationing during that time. This may require actually sitting down with your company's numbers to make this determination, but can be very helpful. You don't want to risk canceling your vacation because your business is "too busy for you to leave," your family won't appreciate it and you'll miss out on some great quality time.
- Use your benefits (or you may lose them)!
For those of you who have benefits or provide them to your employees, it is helpful to remember that if you have paid vacation, then it is to your benefit (and the entire company's benefit) to use that time. Be sure that you have enough vacation time lined up before you leave so you are not "wasting" time when you could be getting paid. Given the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of vacation, as a business owner, you should encourage your employees to take their vacation time as well. Many business owners think that since they're receiving a good portion of the business profits that they don't need to worry about their other benefits--wrong! Mental, emotional, and physical breaks from work make you more productive. Period.
- Be sure your business can run smoothly without you.
This simple phrase is easier said than done for many business owners, but if you are utilizing your people effectively, this shouldn't be a problem. Prep your people by telling them when you are going to be gone and how they will be able to get a hold of you (in case of emergency ONLY), and who they can contact if you are not available. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than worrying about a crisis at the office
- Try a "mini-vacation" or a "staycation."
If you really feel like you can't get away (or cannot afford to get away), try a mini-vacation or a staycation. Your mini-vacation could be a simple weekend away at the campground or the local beach. These trips can be shorter and less expensive than going further away. A staycation might be good option as well, but you want to make sure you're not just using it as an excuse to do different work than normal. If you don't have a regular housecleaning service, pretend you're at a hotel and hire cleaners to come in that week. Take the time to appreciate local attractions or simply lounge around the house. If staying home is a constant reminder of the work you need to do there, give yourself another option.
You will be a better boss, business owner, and friend/ family member if you take time away from work. Your creativity, ability to innovate, and decision-making skills will increase, and your likelihood of developing stress-related problems (health or relational) will decrease. All it takes is a little planning and you can make it happen. Don't you--and your business--deserve that?