It’s May 24th – have you taken a vacation this summer? If you’re like over 50% of small business owners, the answer is no. Too many of us think we just can’t afford to take a vacation, or that things will completely fall apart if we aren’t around to handle them. And, if you’re a single-person operation, there may not be anyone to “mind the store.” But I’m going to prove to you why time off is critical for your business – and for you!
First, according to a Gallup poll, if you don’t take a vacation you’ll be less likely to even like your job. Your frustration level will rise, and you’ll wonder why you’re working as hard as you do. Dumping vacation time also means that you’re going to feel like your work/life balance is completely out of control, and you’ll end up resenting your business and even your clients. Not good.
Did you know that vacations actually make you MORE productive? They do! According to major studies, you can increase your productivity by a third after you have some down time. On top of that, vacation time of at least a week has been shown to give you a more positive outlook, decrease your chance of heart attack, and gives you a more satisfied and happier life. I hope by this point you’re clicking on some vacation planning websites!
So now you want to take a vacation, but how? All it takes is some planning. The key is to be sure that you’re taking at least a full week off – a day or two can help, but a full week let’s you really unplug the way you need to. I always book next year’s summer vacation when I am leaving the beach the year before. I do the same with spring break. And I also sit down with my calendar at the beginning of the year and mark off additional vacation time. These tactics make vacation non-negotiable. And it allows me to plan other obligations around these days so I am sure to stick to my R & R goals. Plus if you work as hard as my husband and I do (and I am sure you do), one week a year is just not enough to replenish the toll that stress and a hectic schedule take on us. We are at our best with at least 2 week-long vacations and a few mini-trips and long weekends throughout the year. Some just the two of us and others with family.
You can start to see how this will work. Once those dates are set, you can be sure that you don’t set any major deadlines just before, during, or just after a week away. And you can prepare your clients and employees – telling them that you won’t be around on those days. Managing their expectations should help you avoid any major issues while you’re gone.
It’s up to you whether or not you check your email while away. My preference is to completely check out and disconnect for at least 2 weeks of the year. But you get to decide if it’s ok to check your email while you’re gone. We recently took a vacation with another hard-working family that are dear friends of ours. Both spouses checked their emails and worked from the beach, even taking calls. They love it that way and they feel rested while also getting things done.
I am just the opposite. When I check out, I REALLY want to check out. It is frustrating to me to check emails or take calls while on vacation. And I feel resentful when I get home and like I didn’t really have time off, if I am working even a little bit while I am away. My husband is somewhere in the middle – a little work and a lot of play.
I suggest if you do check email and take calls while away, at least have some rules. Maybe you can only check your email once per day and during a set time, and you are not allowed to answer anything that is not a real and true emergency. Period. But if you are like me, this is almost impossible. And even if I don’t respond to all those “other non-emergencies” I can’t turn them off in my mind and they interfere with my family fun or all those books I am trying to reach on the beach. And that’s all the more reason for me not to even know those emails or messages are there. But we are all different, so I suggest deciding ahead of time what your “vacation work rules” are before you leave and be committed to stick to them.
So what are you waiting for? Put that out-of-office message on and get out of there! You’ll come back happier, healthier, and ready to kick your business into high gear! And on that note, I am heading out on my second beach trip of the summer in just a few days. Counting down the moments until my toes are reunited with sand once again. I feel more relaxed just thinking about it.