Travel can help you broaden your horizons, forget about life and business stress and catch up on some much needed “me time.” But disconnecting from a business you own isn’t always simple. In fact, one study of small business owners conducted by OnDeck Capital revealed that though 57% will take a vacation this year, 67% of them will check on work at least once a day during their trip.
Here are a few simple tips to help you reap the many benefits of a vacation, without putting your business at risk.
Stimulate your creative energy. Creative ideas often runneth over when you’re in the early phases of entrepreneurship. But once you’re up and running, your days can become so reactive to urgent needs that there’s little time left to focus on fresh, innovative and improved ways of doing business.
The simple enjoyments of vacation--like exploring a new town, riding bikes alongside the beach, or taking leisurely morning walks--are also perfect ways to reinvigorate your creative juices. In fact, in the study “Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking,” researchers measured the creativity levels of stationary test-takers against those who completed tasks in motion. They found that walking (especially outdoors) improved creativity—and had lasting residual effects on heart and brain health. When you recognize that vacation “downtime” contributes to the good of your business, it’s easier to allow yourself to take time away, without feeling that you “should” be working.
Establish a communications plan. Create a list of the “must do” tasks that have to be completed before you leave, so you can focus your energy in the days leading up to your trip, and don’t have to wrap up loose ends during travel. If you intend to check in with work while you’re away, move the files you’ll need to a cloud-based platform that you can access through your hotel or in-flight Wi-Fi and that your staff can access as well.
Plan for how and when you can be reached (professionally and personally) before you depart to minimize incoming phone calls and “phone tag.” Designate a point person to reference in your “out of office” auto responder. If you don’t have such a person on staff, hire a virtual assistant through an affordable service like Zirtual (https://www.zirtual.com).
Inform key clients, vendors and staff that you will have limited “working hours” during your trip. (Ideally, spend no more than one hour a day on work.) Set an alarm on your computer indicating when it’s time to shut down—and stick to it.
Establish a private Gmail account that you can use to access travel arrangements so you don’t have to see the contents of your business inbox when you retrieve them. Share the email address only with those people you want to stay in touch with while you’re away.
Leverage cost-efficient project management tools like Insightly (https://www.insightly.com/) to view the real-time status of projects, workflows and important recurring reports, directly from your mobile device.
Detach from your mobile device. Easing your reliance on your mobile device can facilitate the mental shift you need to change gears on vacation. If you leverage social media updates as a marketing strategy, schedule your posts in advance before you leave, and task someone on staff to respond to customer comments as needed. Take advantage of wake up calls offered by your hotel's front desk instead of waking up to your smartphone. Talk to your hotel’s concierge staff, bartenders and locals who can tip you off to the must-see locales and restaurants in lieu of online review sites.
Though these vacation hacks are small in practice, they’re significant in their collective ability to empower you to emerge from vacation as a refreshed, renewed and refueled entrepreneur.