No one needs R&R more than the average entrepreneur. But given that you can conduct most of your work right from your smartphone, completely unwinding (and unplugging) seems impossible. If you’ve put the proper procedures in place to ensure things can run smoothly in your absence, however, you may find that you can actually relax and enjoy your time away from your business.
Twelve entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share their tips for getting the most out of your vacation time (without stressing over what’s happening while you’re gone).
1. Combine vacations with work trips.
I find that I enjoy my vacations more when I can accomplish work tasks, so I now plan all my vacations around work trips or conferences. If I have a meeting somewhere that I’ve never been before, I’ll mix in fun activities and stay one day longer. Conferences where I speak usually pay for my room and flight so it becomes nearly a free vacation.--Nanxi Liu, Enplug
2. Put away all your devices for at least five hours a day.
You might want to check in from time to time, but to make sure you don’t resist unplugging, choose a five- to six-hour block of time every day where you go out and do something while your phone, laptop and tablet stay back at the hotel or cabin. Whatever happens can probably wait until you get back to home base. You’ll engage more with the people around you and with the scenery, no matter where you are.--Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
3. Eliminate all of your responsibilities.
A vacation should take all your measurements of productivity and throw them out the window. As the CEO of LexION Capital, I understand how busy entrepreneurs are. That's why it's vital to use your vacation for relaxation. The short amount of time you have off should be invested properly — and that's not accomplished by checking your phone 24/7. Plus, it will help your team become more independent.--Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital
4. Work in style.
If you can’t completely disconnect on your vacation, at least do your work in a way that most people would dream of. This past winter I went to Santa Monica for a short vacation. I couldn’t completely disconnect, but I did make sure any work I did was accompanied by a spectacular view of the ocean, warm beach breezes and a refreshing drink next to my laptop.--Mark Daoust, Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc.
5. Set up a vacation voicemail.
Turning your phone off and recording a vacation voicemail will surely get the attention of people who are trying to reach you. They will call and realize your phone is off, and will then hear your voicemail, which should start with “I’m on vacation.” This doesn’t completely disconnect you, but it keeps you from checking your phone constantly and will let your callers know you are out of touch.--Drew Gurley, Redbird Advisors
6. Plan around holidays.
I like to plan my vacations around holidays, when I know that nobody will have an emergency at the company that requires my attention. This allows me to take a good vacation and enjoy time with my family. I’m a lot less worried, and when I do hop online, not many others are working and I can quickly get things done.--John Rampton, Due
7. Leave your computer at home.
I know it’s scary, but to avoid temptation, leave your computer at home. If you bring it with you, you’ll feel like you have to check emails and more every time you look at it. Stop the temptation before it even has a chance to start.--Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.
8. Start the minute you leave the office.
Too often I hear colleagues talk about relaxing only once they arrive at their destination. “In Miami I will unplug everything!” To maximize my vacation, I start it when I get into the elevator leaving the office. Instead of checking email on the way home, I put on a playlist, and while I’m packing I don’t call to “check in.” I start a staycation until I get to my destination!--Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
9. Plan 2 weeks ahead.
Even with some strict protocols in place, on a remote team, you just plain work a LOT. So when it’s time for vacation, our Lean Startup Company team members plan ahead. In the two weeks before, the soon-to-be vacationer adds anything to the agenda for which he/she requires support: ensuring the marketing pipeline stays on track, invoices get approved, or your proxy decision-maker is assigned.--Heather McGough, Lean Startup Company
10. Take time to wind down.
I find it takes a few days for me to wind down from the fast-paced startup environment as well as from the pace of New York City. Having taken a few vacations since starting the business, I’ve come to terms with working a bit the first couple days going into the vacation, then naturally winding down and being offline for the second half of being away.--Andrew Fayad, eLearning Mind
11. Take shorter, more frequent trips instead.
The once-a-year vacationing entrepreneur is faced with tremendous pressure to disconnect and enjoy a work-free vacation. In reality, there is no such thing as being fully disconnected from a business you are running. Things happen that must be dealt with. Instead, relieve the pressure by taking smaller, more frequent vacations to ensure you are able to mitigate the risk of vacation interruption.--Ross Resnick, Roaming Hunger
12. Give yourself a 30-minute email limit.
Vacations are great for stepping back from the trenches and taking a big picture view of your company. Do not skip out on a couple of one-week vacations each year — these are critical for staying in touch with the big picture. I like to check email one time per day for 30 minutes, so that I don’t return from an otherwise restful vacation with 500+ emails in my inbox. --Noah Glass, Olo