How many times have you found yourself telling your clients “I’m trying to take a vacation next week?”
The simple choice of words “trying” is a problem. Not only does it send a dubious message that you may or may not be available for work but it also negates the whole point of taking a vacation. If you can’t commit to the time off, why bother?
We all need vacations, whether you’re a solopreneur or manage a team of employees. But how do you take that time off without getting your time off interrupted or coming back to find that your business fell apart without you?
Commit the Time
First of all, decide when you’re going to take that vacation. For many of us that means avoiding busy seasons and finding a time when things tend to slow down a bit. Try and do this a few months out so that you can take care of and deliver on projects or commitments ahead of time.
Put it in your calendar and rearrange your meeting schedule accordingly.
Don’t Put Things Off
If you know you have a vacation coming, do not put off till later what can be done today. Manage your time and schedule so that you get ahead of projects whenever possible. Unless you’ve got a highly competent employee or partner to step into your shoes for a week, most of your duties, tasks and responsibilities will get put off until you return, so do everything you can to clear your plate before you leave. It can be tempting to say, “I’ll take care of that when I get back”, but your workload will likely double with catch-up tasks when your vacation is over.
Knowing things are taken care of will help you enjoy your time off more fully.
Reach out to Clients
Do not just drop of the horizon without notifying your most important clients.
Two to three weeks ahead of your vacation reach out to all your clients – active or otherwise – and let them know of your plans. Reassure them that you’ll tackle all pending deliverables before you leave and that any new work will be taken care of when you return (by the way, this outreach gives you a great opportunity to ask your dormant clients about their needs and remind them of your services).
Concede Control to Someone
In small businesses everything tends to revolve around the owner, but taking a vacation is actually a great opportunity to practice letting go of the reins a little and handing off control to on or more trusted members of staff. By delegating tasks to more than one employee, you’ll avoid overwhelming one person. Spend some time assigning tasks based on your employee’s strengths before you leave.
If you don’t have staff to cover for you, you might want to consider an automated answer service or virtual assistant to manage your calls, calendar and even basic accounting while you’re away.
Set Parameters about How/When You can be Reached
It can be hard to detach from day-to-day operations while you’re on vacation. According to a 2014 survey by lender OnDeck, 57% of business owners check in with work at least once per day while only 15% completely disconnect.
If you want a quality vacation, try this approach. Set yourself a communication policy before you leave. Will you check in once a day, once a week or not at all? Try and stick to that commitment so that you don’t undermine the delegated authority you’ve just given to your team.
Write a To Do List
There’s nothing like a vacation to clear the head, but don’t be one of those people who comes back so relaxed that you can’t remember what your immediate work priorities are. The day before you leave, write a to-do list of projects and tasks that need to be actioned, followed-up, or closed out when you get back.
Invoice Before You Leave
Get one step ahead of your accounts and invoice all completed work. It’ll expedite the payment process and help you with cash flow when you return.
So what are you waiting for? Plan your next vacation now. It can be a great time to sit back, reflect, and energize your business strategy.