Another year, another spring break.
Last year I shared some very reasonable tips for going on vacation as a business owner, yet ended up breaking most of those rules. This year, I tried a slightly more realistic tack. If you own a business, are a workaholic, or just a worryholic like me, it’s not as easy as unplugging and trusting that all will be well. So, here is a “new and improved” list of tips for business owners who are indispensable (or who just think they are.)
Be honest with yourself. If it’s just not possible to disconnect for a week, compromise. Instead of driving yourself and your family crazy, plan a mini-break over a four-day weekend. Or decide on a working vacation, and let everyone know that means office hours from 8 to noon, or whatever.
Set goals. If you’re a hard-charging type, that may be the best way to approach your time off. Remind yourself exactly why you need this vacation, what research shows about the benefits of taking a break, and what you personally need to get out of it. Your goal might be business-related, like recharging your creative batteries, or personal, like saving your marriage. (What’s the ROI there?)
Vacation in season. For agency owners, it’s a no-brainer to choose spring break, July 4th weekend, and Christmas, because those are the times when clients are likely to be away also. Of course, those are also times when senior staff might want to be away, but there should be some perqs to being the boss, right?
Communicate your plans to staff and clients well in advance so they can schedule meetings around your absence (since you’re so indispensable.) Better yet, trust that the meetings can happen without you. Sometimes less is more; you don’t have to be in every meeting for your clients to feel and appreciate your involvement.
Break up the week. Instead of a Monday through Friday vacation, consider Wednesday to Wednesday. Maybe it’s psychological, but dividing the week can lessen the anxiety for some, even though the number of days off is the same.
Plan immersive activities. Notcot co-founder Jean Aw has a rule to do something that directly contrasts with daily work life. Whatever you do, it should be absorbing enough to take you out of your everyday world. For my husband it may be skindiving, while for me, it could be reading a novel.
Make a decision about technology, and how accessible you need to me, and plan accordingly. Most of us need a reliable Internet connection. Or, for a short break, it may be better not to have WiFi, but if email withdrawal makes you jittery, don’t try to go cold turkey. Just compromise by checking it only twice a day.
Indulge yourself. Preferably a massage, hike, or other physical activity. It will reduce stress and build stamina for your return to the fray.
Combine business with vacation. If guilt is your thing, you’ll feel more deserving of your break.