Memorial Day Weekend has passed, which means Summer is here (in spirit, at least). A question that often comes to mind for entrepreneurs and small business owners is one that almost everyone faces this time of year -- how to fit in a vacation. Traveling, for business or for leisure, always requires some planning and scheduling, but as a small business owner it can be even more stressful. In addition to attempting to travel hack your vacation, and making the most of your time away from work, as an entrepreneur you also have to think about how your business will function without you onsite to manage and troubleshoot any issues that arise.
When faced with the prospect of leaving your business unattended, or putting together some sort of out of office protocol, too many small business owners end up not taking vacation. Taking vacation, and a break from business, can all too often end up with other items that would be nice to do, but simply are not priorities. This is a mistake that can lead to decreased productivity, burnout, overwork, stress, and errors that can negatively impact your reputation and clients. It is obviously easier said than done to take time off, but that does mean it is impossible.
Even though it might be difficult, it is always important to take time away from your business to rest, recharge, think strategically, and think about how you can improve your business when you return. You have surely seen the studies, research and books emphasizing the importance of getting enough relaxation and rest, and it's important to turn this knowledge into applicable steps for your business.
Looking at some suggestions and ideas at how to maximize your time off from your business, you will hopefully see something that will help you actually enjoy your time away from the office.
1. Communicate with clients
An important question to ask yourself before you take a break from your business is this: do your clients know the specifics? Everyone knows that people take vacation, and if you coordinate with your clients, let them know when you are planning to be away, and what your out of office protocol will be, it will help decrease your stress while you are away.
2. Declutter your inbox and workspace
Before you leave for your vacation be sure to not only wrap up any outstanding items and tasks for clients, but also make sure to finalize any open items that have been brought to your attention as you prepare to leave. Also, make sure to physically clean and tidy up your workspace -- simply organizing and cleaning desks and workspaces has been proven to decrease anxiety and mental stress.
3. Set up a contact policy
It is increasingly expected that we will all be available at all times, and this is even more important if you are managing and running your own business. One important step I always recommend is that, even if you communicate the fact that you are going to be away on vacation, you put into place some sort of contact policy, whether by phone or email. For example, in case of a problem with a certain client, or certain specific types of issues, one or two people should be able to get in touch with you.
4. Turn off email notifications
If you are anything like me, and if you are an entrepreneur or small business owner you probably are, you have all your emails and other methods of contact set to notify you on your phone or tablet. When going on vacation, turning those notifications off can give you some additional piece of mind -- you can always turn them back on when you get back to the office.
Vacation, and specifically planning for vacation, can be stressful, but it does not have to be if you do a little bit of planning and legwork before you go. Running your business may be your passion, but it does not have to prevent you from taking time to recharge yourself and your business. Setting up some basic contact policies, coordinating with your clients and/or employees, and making sure you are not distracting yourself can help you actually relax and recharge while away from the office.