I used to be a vice president in one of the world’s largest financial companies. This corporate gig came with four weeks of vacation, eleven holidays and four personal days to take each calendar year–all while still getting paid.
When I joined the entrepreneurial, small-business world, all of that was gone. I work on most of the holidays I used to get off. I have taken one full week of vacation in the last two years, and have enjoyed maybe a handful of Fridays to make long weekends. Those 35 days a year of rest and recharging has become about 10-15 over the last two years. And it comes at a price– if you don’t work, you don’t get paid, money doesn’t flow through the business. And the burnout becomes overwhelming at times.
But, how do your overcome the lack of vacation? The entrepreneurial burnout? The need to recharge? As a small business leader, how do you manage to take the time off to recharge and get motivated again?
There is More Than One Way to Prepare For Vacation
Step One: Prepare
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
You have spent weeks planning for this much-needed vacation. You’ve booked the plane tickets and hotel, researched the activities in your destination and packed just the right wardrobe for the trip.
Spend an equal amount of time preparing at the office for your vacation as well. This includes preparing both yourself and your clients. Prepare yourself by getting ahead in as many projects as possible. Make sure that you put in the extra time up front in order to enjoy the time off. This will decrease your worrying and give you a much more enjoyable vacation experience.
Prepare your clients by setting expectations weeks ahead of your vacation. Let them know that you will be out of town, but will be working diligently to get them their work product as soon as possible. By preparing clients, you are easing their minds by ensuring them that they are not forgotten and that their projects are important to you, too.
Step Two: Delegate, delegate, delegate!
Make sure that you are able to continually run your business without your presence. Give your employees the tasks that they are capable of completing without your intervention. Don’t overwhelm them with items they have never seen before, but have the confidence to delegate to them. This not only shows them you trust them, appreciate their work and believe they can do it, but it also keeps the flow of work through the office while you are away.
If you do not have employees, get as many pieces off to outside vendors in order for the work to continue while you are away. For example, if you need items printed or copied, get the files to the printer prior to leaving so the work can be done in your absence.
This constant flow of project traffic prevents the stall of jobs and keeps a steady stream of income coming in for the time you get off. This can also be a huge stress-reliever and will let you enjoy your vacation that much more.
Step Three: Don’t Make Yourself Too Reachable
You’re on vacation! Don’t make it a working vacation. Set the expectations prior to leaving that you will not be taking work phone calls unless it is an emergency. And even then, a voicemail will be required. Then you can decide whether work’s idea of an emergency equates to your idea of an emergency.
We all need vacation. We all need the pressure to be lifted for just a small amount of time, and while the 4-day-weekends are good for a short term fix, without an extended vacation every now and then, you will crash and burn.
Take the steps now to allow yourself to recharge.