It's Monday, and you're already counting down the minutes until you leave for a week's vacation on Friday. As you drive to the office, you daydream about the beach you're going to loll on or the show you plan to binge-watch with a friend. You start to relax just thinking about it, but then your first cup of coffee kicks in--and you panic.
Taking a week-long vacation means being gone from your business for five whole business days and pushing off seemingly urgent tasks to do so. In 30 seconds, your wonderful daydream turns to a night terror as you envision returning to a bankrupt company with no clients left. This is why entrepreneurs are all too likely to deny themselves a vacation.
I understand how easy it is to feel guilty for leaving your business for some R&R. After all, the company needs you, and it feels irresponsible. However, you'd be surprised by how many benefits you'll see from stepping away for a few days. Taking a break from the daily grind can boost your productivity when you return and enable you to approach your business with a new perspective. Solutions to problems where you previously hit a wall become clear.
While the benefits are numerous, entrepreneurs still struggle to step away from the office. But you can carve out the time you need to recoup your entrepreneurial spirit and prevent burnout -- all without feeling guilty and sneaking calls to the office when you should be zip lining with your family. Here's how to do it:
1. Put your vacation in your calendar and remind yourself daily that it's coming.
This may sound too simple to really help, but by blocking off vacation time on your calendar, it becomes a fait accompli. And the daily reminders will prompt you to schedule tasks and prioritize projects before you leave. That way, you won't unintentionally create a scheduling conflict when you're setting up a follow-up call with a client or a time to chat through a project with someone else on your team.
Of course, you should feel comfortable pushing some non-urgent duties off until you return -- just communicate to your team that you're doing so.
2. Replace yourself for a week.
By replace yourself, I don't mean build a machine to clone a second you like in The Fly (we all know how that turned out). Instead, determine who on your team-- even if you have a team of two-- can take on the critical tasks on your to-do list while you're gone.
First, make a list of everything you do in a day, including the approximate amount of time you spend on each task, and decide what can wait until you get back. Then, ask others to pick up the remaining vital responsibilities that can't be delayed. If you're a one-person operation, consider what tasks on your plate can be outsourced to a freelancer that week.
3. If you can't find a week to take off, try taking a long weekend.
You don't need to go on a long vacation to experience the perks. Even an extended weekend away from the office helps. In fact, New York City psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert recently told NBC News that taking a three-day weekend is even better for your mental health than an entire week of vacation.
He said his clients often think they want to go far, far away, "But then it takes a day to get to their destination, they run into issues accessing their email in a remote place, and inevitably, they get so stressed planning it, that they aren't able to truly disconnect." No matter how much time you take off, the key to doing so successfully is to be fully disconnected: There should be no work calls unless the building is on fire. Set up an out-of-office email notification, then turn off email notifications on your phone so you won't be tempted by the frequent pings.
Don't let your worst fears stop you from taking the time off you truly need. Likewise, don't let your guilt cause you to spend a week away from the office only to be constantly responding to emails. By following these tips, you can take the vacation you need and reap the full rewards.