Yes, it is possible to enjoy time away from work. Yet, when I ask business owners how their vacation, went I typically receive a lukewarm response. It goes something like this: “Well, you know, vacations are hardly worth the trouble given what I have to go through to have one, but it was ok.”
I wanted to resist the urge to tell you how important time away from your responsibilities is, but I wonder if you realize just how important. Proper vacations are proven to reduce stress, lessen the odds of heart disease, decrease or eliminate depressive tendencies, and increase productivity (therefore profit). The largest and longest-running study of cardiovascular disease, the Framingham Heart Study, revealed that men who did not take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks compared to men who did take time off. And women who took a vacation only once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack, compared to those who vacationed at least twice a year. Your business means everything to you, but is it worth this kind of risk?
Probably not, so let’s take a look at a few things you can do to get in a much-deserved vaca and disconnect from the world you leave behind.
Adopt a mindset that supports your goal.
Believe that it is possible to enjoy your vacation.
Regardless of previous experiences, rid your mind of any doubt that you can have a fun, restful time away. If your business is properly structured, there’s no reason your vacation can’t be spent doing what you’ve set out to do: have fun, get in some good family time and relax. Success begins with believing you can achieve it.
Stop worrying about what can go wrong at work.
Most of the “emergency” situations that arise during a business owner's absence aren’t critical to long term survival. You’re just so accustomed to jumping through hoops that your brain is on auto-pilot. If you are informed of a problem, go enjoy a mojito, assess the situation and respond after you put things into perspective. I’ll bet the person you put in charge is capable of resolving most issues.
Prepare your employees.
I have a friend who works virtually and recently sent an email to her boss. What did she receive in return? An auto-responder saying that the boss was out of town for the remainder of the week. Seriously?
Business owners don’t always prepare their employees for their absence. Mostly, it’s due to a lack of ongoing training. Left to the last minute, training is the first thing to go. You never know when you’ll have to leave town, so it’s wise to keep your right-hand person up-to-date on much of what you do. If you run the ship solo, schedule a minimum of 30-minutes a day a couple of weeks prior to vacation to get the critical tasks in order. This is a priority commitment, so don’t break it.
Prepare your customers.
Tell your customers about your upcoming absence and make certain they have what they need for the time being. Recruit help from an employee if possible and call your customer list, which is wise to do anyway. Sometimes these calls can even lead to an extra sale!
Use tools like an email responder and temporary voicemail message to keep customers well informed of your absence and define the steps they may take for urgent matters. (Preferably, not to call your cell phone.)
Be determined to disconnect.
If your employees are confident and customers informed, there shouldn’t be much to disrupt your respite. Yes, true emergencies do happen, but most of what entrepreneurs allow to interfere don’t fit into that category. Give up your control just for a little while. Create a vacation “work” schedule if you must, and stick to it.
Check emails and voicemail at the same time each day.
Checking in twice a day should be enough; if you can make it less, then do. You may be tempted to respond but do this only if it’s absolutely necessary. Otherwise, forward what you can to your employees or mark it for follow up.
Silence your phone, or even better, leave it behind.
Unless you separate from your family, there is no reason to have the ringer turned up on your phone. I had one client go so far as to get a burner phone for family use during vacation so he could leave his main phone in the vacation rental. This is the time to withdraw from your device addiction and, believe me, it gets easier each day.
Stay in the present moment.
Your mind will likely drift back to work often, doesn’t it always? Use that determination of yours to refocus and remain in the present moment. Take in what you’re doing and engage in dialogue about how much you’re enjoying it. From day one, resist the urge to call and check in at the office. Again, it gets easier each day. By day three you won’t even care!
Lastly, remember--you deserve this freedom. Isn't that really what being an entrepreneur is really all about?