Disconnecting from your business to take a real vacation (that doesn’t involve logging onto your laptop, checking email or following up with staff and key clients on the daily isn’t an easy feat, but it may be more important to your long-term success than an “always on” mentality.
When you take the time to step out of the reactive mode busy entrepreneurial days often entail, you can take a more objective look at what’s working, what’s not—and gain more clarity on how evolve and adapt your businesses current processes for long-term success.
Here are some inexpensive tech tools that can help you take time away from business, without feeling that you’re sacrificing its success.
A mature cloud-based storage device. If your business isn’t already using cloud-based storage to support daily operations, transition your processes to an established player in the space—prioritizing security, storage, and usability. When you evaluate potential vendors, remember that there are often important perks reflected in a higher priced service: Usability kinks are already resolved, security standards tend to be enhanced, and there’s greater likelihood that the service will easily sync with your other business tools. Educate yourself and your team on the new processes that using cloud-based technology may demand (expecting that there’s always going to be at least one person on staff that resists change). Allow your team time to address learning curves before you go, so you’re confident everyone will have access to the information they need while you’re away—and you won’t have to call someone back at the office to ask if you’re looking at the most recent version of a document.
Slack. If your email inbox is jam packed with project updates from different players involved in your business, Slack might help you streamline communications for all involved when you’re in the office, and away. Similar to idea of hashtags in social media, Slack allows your team to categorize their communications based on specific projects, initiatives or client needs— allowing you to easily search those conversations by keyword, so you don’t to waste your precious vacation time reading through unnecessary email chatter.
The tool also makes it simple to drag and drop files including documents, images and video on desktop and mobile devices for easy sharing. It syncs with many popular cloud-based storage tools, and can be accessed on multiple devices.
Casengo. If part of your challenge in leaving the office is the fear that customers or client issues won’t be resolved efficiently without your involvement, Casengo could ease your mind about disconnecting (and it’s free for the first 30 days). This collaborative tool eliminates the need to have one person dedicated to “manning” the customer service email inbox, and runs on a platform that’s easy to install, even for small businesses without an IT team. You can assign different members of team to be involved in the resolution of a given customer issue as needed (including suppliers). For entrepreneurs who really can’t resist checking in, the real-time status of an issue can be viewed directly from a mobile device (without requiring your direct involvement or request for an update).
Textilus. Nothing cues the start of a vacation more than leaving your laptop at home. For about $6 a month, the word processing app Textilus gives iPad users the freedom to create, edit and mark up documents in a range of formats, edit and create images and charts, and “finger” sign contracts and approvals directly from their tablet. Its voice dictation and text to speech functions support 30 different languages, and it auto syncs with Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive and other popular cloud-based storage tools.
Trello. When your creative juices get flowing on your vacay, this tool uses boards, cards and list features that can help you capture your musings, add to them as ideas develop (saved privately or with designated members of your team), so you can easily find (and refine) them later.
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