Although countless studies have emphasized the importance of taking time off from work for one's mental and physical health, and also for increased productivity when back at the office, many professionals still fail to take a proper vacation. Busy entrepreneurs seem to have the worst track record, as most of them don't fully leave work behind and remain immersed in their organization's day-to-day operations even when away.
So how can business owners make the most of their vacation time without constantly worrying that their business will go up in flames without them? These six entrepreneurs share some of their best tips on how to maximize your time away from the business and come back re-energized and ready to perform at your best.
Create processes and delegate.
"Being an entrepreneur, it's hard to fully get away from the business. I still take my computer with me on any vacation and make it a 'workcation,'" digital marketing expert Jean Ginzburg admits.
Ginzburg found that having clear processes in place before going on vacation is key in being able to disconnect from work and enjoying herself while away. "Most of my business's projects and tasks are documented in a process document. And then my team can follow the processes and execute while I am on vacation," she explains.
Think of it as a test.
Having the right mindset is key when it comes to vacation time, so if you think of it as a test for both yourself and your team, you're more likely to put your mind at ease, thinks James Guldan, CEO of Vision Tech Team.
"Positioning a vacation in your head as a test of your company is a lot easier to manage. Do you have the right people, in the right place, with the right standards, so that everything goes smoothly while you're gone? There's no better way to test your processes and people than to let them do their thing while you're away," Guldan advises.
Set three levels of prioritization.
Another approach that works, according to DevriX CEO Mario Peshev, is setting priority levels for the different events and situations your team will be faced with while you're away: "During my time off, I classify work under three specific categories: urgent, important and everything else."
Peshev explains that the "urgent" label is for priority matters that block the team or clients, and require his immediate response. "'Important' can wait until the evening, and I typically spend 30-45 minutes going through them. 'Everything else' gets postponed for after the holiday," he says.
Set up defined check-ins.
"By scheduling one or two defined check-ins, you allow yourself to fully unplug during the vacation," Boomn co-founder and managing partner Ryan O'Connell adds.
The check-ins should be utilized as rally points for the team to ask questions, provide updates and knock out any to-dos, while not interrupting or ruining the entire vacation. "This also sets better expectations with those you are on vacation with as to when you will be free and when you need to work," O'Connell explains.
Schedule time for work.
Other entrepreneurs feel it's easier to just schedule in a few hours of work during your vacation -- while not ideal for those who seek to completely disconnect, it can certainly put an entrepreneur's mind at ease to be able to stay updated with what's going on at the office.
"I schedule one or two hours of work time each day during my vacation and spend the rest of the day relaxing and having fun," Formidable Forms founder Stephanie Wells says. "This scheduled work time allows me to ease my mind regarding business tasks and, at the same time, ensures that I make relaxation the main focus on my vacation.
Leave your laptop at home.
And if you really want to put the "control freak" inside you to rest while you're on vacation, there's no better way to do it than to leave your laptop at home or turn your phone notifications off. "While leaving your laptop might seem scary, it'll greatly enhance your vacation experience once you give it a try, and you'll also come back more productive," Karl Kangur, founder and CEO of Above House, says.
Kangur explains that he got over this fear by doing a "fake vacation" first: "I told our team that I'm going to be offline for a week (with notice) and prepared them for it. Then simply worked from home -- 'shockingly,' they managed fine without me."