How to FINALLY take a vacation & trust your business will be (more than) okay!
This summer, I’m taking two trips to the US to visit my friends and family! One is a few days in NYC for a gals weekend and the other trip is a full 3 weeks back in Oregon to visit my other home. This has really gotten me thinking about how prepared we, as entrepreneurs, need to be to actually get the most out of a vacation. So here is my foolproof formula for finally getting away from it all for a bit.
In my experience we entrepreneurs work super long hours and many of us play hard too! As a business owner, finding time for true self-care (AKA more than just blowing off some steam) can be a real challenge. So it makes sense that it seems like the most unattainable form of self-care is taking a vacation!
It can be tempting to defer rest and relaxation until you feel like your business is stable or successful. But as we all know, there’s always a new goal to be met, a new launch to prepare for, and a new collaboration to get up and going! Time doesn’t stop - so don’t wait until you are ‘ready’.
As entrepreneurs there are two types of common holidays:
A working-vacation (or short-term digital nomading)
A full on, off-the-radar, no-work-is-touched vacation
Both are valid ways to see more of the world and enjoy yourself. That said, we need to allow ourselves to take more time away from our businesses because it is the HEALTHY thing to do. Other benefits of stepping away from your laptop include freeing up brainspace for creativity and making space to really connect with the people you are on vacation with! You know the people that are really special in your life, maybe even the ones you started your business for in the first place! These types of relationships - the ones that are nourishing and fulfilling outside of the world of business - are shown to actually help us live longer!
While any business owner can struggle to push pause and trust that their business will still be thriving when they return - service based business owners have the additional challenge of knowing that when they take a vacation, they are almost certainly going to lose some money. Which can be pretty tough to swallow, but a refreshed brain has more capacity than an overworked one!
Other things that we entrepreneurs worry about when dreaming about taking time off might be:
Shouldn’t we be ‘hustlin’ to make our dreams come true?
Can we afford to spend money on a vacation? And if so, shouldn’t that money go back into growing our business?
What if an emergency comes up and we lose a client because of it?
Don’t clients expect us to pretty much always be available?
Won’t coming back home and catching up on what we’ve missed be a nightmare?
Why your business NEEDS you to take a vacation:
Boundaries are important, for you, for your clients, for your life!
Preparing to take time away, will force you to see what things you absolutely must do in your business - and what can wait or be automated.
Time away can get your creative juices flowing.
Learning to unplug is great for both your mental and physical health.
You’ll be able to formulate a plan in advance for your content, workload, etc.
It will give you the opportunity to test outsourcing (or outsource more if you already are a smarty pants who passes along work outside of your zone of genius).
It prepares your business for an emergency - you’ll have what you need in place for your business to be okay should the unthinkable happen.
So how do you make this magical thing called a vacation happen?
Plan your holiday well in advance.
Start with your budget and plan your destination and length of trip accordingly. If this year you can only afford a few days away out camping on a lake or a budget road trip so be it! If a beach vacation a short flight away is in the cards - GO FOR IT! Pro tip: try to go for a time of year when business is slightly slower for your industry.
Now that your trip is set and booked - make sure that a few weeks before you depart you communicate with your clients and team members and add buffers when you do. For example, tell your clients you are away one day before you leave and one day after you return from your actual travel dates - this will allow you time to finish up projects before you go and get resettled into your work when you return. This equals less stress on you!
Here’s the email I sent my clients for my upcoming trips:
As we approach the official start of summer I wanted to provide you with some updates regarding my availability.
I will be away on two holidays in America over the Summer. These dates are:
13 June - 18 June
22 August - 13 September
For the June dates, I will be officially out of office and off the clock. So please bear this in mind when assigning work and make sure to get anything you need completed by me over to me a few days before the 12th!
As for the August/September dates, I will still be working - however, it will only be for an hour or two in early mornings. Please note that this is Pacific Time - which is 8 hours behind the UK & Ireland. I'll send you another reminder for this holiday closer to the time.
If you have any questions at all regarding any of this, please let me know.
All the best
AND TRUST ME.. I definitely built myself in a buffer with these dates.
2. Get your priorities straight
Make a list of what tasks you do over a week (or two).
What can you automate or schedule for while you are away? Think blog posts, social media, accounting, posts in your Membership, email blasts, etc. I wrote about my favourite tools for taking care of time-wasting tasks here.
What processes can you document and then delegate? Consider things like customer service, accounting, social media management, formatting blog posts, etc. (see my list of 25 things to delegate to a VA here).
Make sure to get the automations and delegation in place a few weeks before you go - this will allow you to fine tune the processes and work out any kinks that might pop up.
In the few days ahead of your trip, create space in your schedule to get all of your important work out of the way before you head off on your getaway!
3. Set your out of office notifiers!
This includes your email autoresponder, your slack status, your status in your project management tool - the works! Make sure people know what to expect - how long you’ll be away, if you are reachable - what hours can they expect you’ll be in touch, what to do in case of an emergency, etc. Here’s an example from my autoresponder last December:
You've caught me while I'm away.
I will be away on two brief holidays between now and the New Year. I won't be totally offline, but I will only be working an hour or two a day (in the early mornings). These dates are:
- 6 December - 10 December
- 28 December - 30 December
I’ll be back to my regular hours here shortly - if you have an emergency please know that I will be in touch within 24 hours.
Next make sure to assign your VA to monitor your inbox/workload for any emergencies and to put out any fires that may pop up! In most cases this won’t take them more than 15 minutes per day, unless your business is quite large! Lost on where to start with a VA - check this out.
4. When you're on vacation, actually be on vacation - log off and enjoy!
This means that you shouldn’t just read business books or even open your laptop for the first couple of days! Remember, you’ve set yourself up for success here - you have nothing to worry about.
If you are on a working holiday you need to set strict boundaries. Make sure to only work a couple of hours max per day - this should include one 30-minute session to check on your inbox, business social media accounts, email list, etc. If you find something that is wrong, fix it, and then get back to enjoying yourself. A few more rules to enjoying a working vacation:
Make working is as comfortable as possible. Ensure you have a great view, your favourite beverage, and some relaxing vacay tunes!
Avoid getting up early or staying up late to work - as if you are facing a deadline. Remember you are trying to enjoy yourself!
Allow yourself to have a loose plan and not stick to a strict work schedule.
When you aren’t working, don’t let yourself feel guilty. You are on holiday after all!
Limit your time on your phone - mute notifications from apps that are work related, turn your phone on do not disturb mode, get some time away from screens. It’s good for you, I promise!
5. On the day you're officially back in the office (and your clients know it), schedule in a few breaks to decrease overwhelm and immediate stress.
Yes coming down from the high of the break of your dreams can be tough, but so are you! You’ll be back in the swing of things in no time at all thanks to all your careful planning.
So there’s the formula - all laid out and ready to be used. Now you have no excuse but to get unstuck and stop adding up all the things you “should” be doing for your business and let yourself, ya know, have a LIFE outside of work.
Are you an entrepreneur or a small business owner who wants to save on sanity?
Do you need more time to focus on the stuff you love and finally get back to providing your unique talents to your customers?
Want a condensed PDF of this information to either print or complete on your iPad? Download your free checklist here! As usual, I’d love for you to download this and let me know what you think!
Some other cool stuff I’ve been up to:
P.S. If you found this useful I’ll be talking about this in more detail at the #SaveonSanity event in Belfast on 5 June 2019! Hope to see you there :)
P.P.S. Last, but absolutely not least I wanted to share with you that I’m a member of the Systems Saved Me Ops Squad.
Let’s get you out from behind the screen and in front of some truly amazing sunsets by implementing some systems into your business.
With workflow templates, you can:
Build systems in your business as easy as 1-2-3
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Enjoy more time sipping pina coladas on the beach!
Check them out here - http://bit.ly/2VVBlCF