There is no denying that the approach to taking holidays and time off is a whole different game when you run your own business.
As business owners, we are so invested in every aspect of it that it can be hard to truly step back and switch off. There are always so many decisions to make, financial considerations, client care, and those goals that you have that you don’t want the momentum to slip from. And as we’re often solo in this, or working with a small team, the more we invest the more results we are likely to see and the more excited you are to feel about the direction the business is heading in.
This, however, leads to a disconnect when it comes to work life balance (or work life integration). The longer this goes on leads to a build up of stress until it all finally catches up and there is no choice but to take enforced time off. Never good to get to this point.
The obvious solution is to take time off regularly, a day, an afternoon or a long weekend a month, but this isn’t always enough as your mind is still on those projects, your inbox, and a lot of ‘what if’s’ or “I’ll just do that quickly’.
What is needed is more extended time off. But the thought of that can often lead to anxiety, and worrying about what might be going on in your business while you’re not.
An ‘always on’ mentality can creep up, and the belief that you have to be involved in your business all the time, is easy to make the norm.
It is essential that you take time off to give yourself time to rest, recharge and come back stronger to take on the next phase of your business growth.
As is so often heard, “you are your business”. You need to be there for you, your clients and your team, but you need to be there well, positive and happy. You can’t do that if you’re not looking after yourself.
Here are three ways to set your business, and you, up for a holiday. Implementing this will give you the confidence and peace of mind to really be able to switch off and enjoy time out.
The more focussed you are on planning for your holiday, the more you are likely to stick to taking the time off as you’ll know that everything is covered. To be able to plan properly takes time, so schedule your time off weeks or even months in advance if you can, and start jotting down what you know will need doing during that time.
Bring your team in the know as soon as you have scheduled this time, so they can help develop the plans for your time away, and identify knowledge gaps they will need to get up to speed with before you go.
If you have a team, don’t forget to delegate ahead of time too. A hidden upside of this may be that it opens up other ways your team can help you, and therefore freeing up more of your time.
If you don’t have a team but you think you might need cover, the earlier you plan, the earlier you’ll know who you will need to bring on, and the better your recruitment process and onboarding will be.
When you know what you need to do, start a plan to get things done as soon as is viable for you. Need to batch blogs, newsletter and social content? That can be done well ahead of time so start early. Foresee client deadlines clashing with your time off? Tell clients early and make arrangements for cover, or change dates by agreement. Postpone what you can with causing an impact in your or your clients businesses.
The earlier and more robustly you plan, the more confident you will feel that everything is covered and you are not needed (in a nice way!).
It is best to set up processes for everything in your business (you’ve heard me go on about this before!) That way you’re not dependent on one person being around to do them, as anyone should be able to pick them up and implement.
Be this a team member, or if you have to hand a few tasks back to a client for a couple of weeks, having a clear process will make everything easier, and you will know that you have left clear instructions for business continuity.
If you’re not in the habit of taking any time off, why not practice for a day or two in the lead up to your holiday and really disconnect. Take your emails off your phone, no social media, and no checking in. Almost try it on for size! I get how daunting it can be, but planning really is the key to a relaxing holiday.
It does take real effort to disconnect, but the more you can practice and feel confident, the more you will feel able to do it more often. This will increase your mental health, happiness and ability to show up in your business as you want to.
You are a valuable presence in your business but at the same time things shouldn’t fall apart when you’re not there.
With solid planning, processes, practice (and people if necessary) in place, you can look forward to the rest and recharge that you need. Your business will be better for you having the strength to take some proper holiday.
Start early, and look forward to that cocktail by the pool!
But above all else, remember that you have built a remarkable business and that will serve you well, whether you are there all day, everyday, or not.