Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
Taking a vacation when you’re a small business owner is tough.
Irritatingly, it seems like it shouldn’t be. In fact, in the abstract, it seems like it would be easier to take a vacation as a small business owner than it would be if you were an employee. As an employee, you effectively have to ask permission to take leave. You have to coordinate your schedule with other employees, book only available and permissible dates – it’s not fun. When you’re in business for yourself, however, then the only person you need to ask is you.
That’s easier said than done, though because 70 percent of small business owners don’t see time off as a vacation from work. That’s pretty depressing, but for anyone with their own business, it’s probably not much of a surprise. When you’re the one in control and your business is absolutely reliant on you, just walking away from your responsibilities and clients can be very difficult.
Rather than making this article a cautionary tale of how you must take a break – because that’s patronizing – let’s instead focus on how you can make a holiday as good as possible. The simple truth is that we do all need a break sometimes, but it’s impossible not to acknowledge many small business owners can’t just take their hands off the wheel so they can spend time in the sun. Acknowledging this, how can you make the most of your time away, so you have a chance of feeling refreshed – but your business success is guaranteed too.
- Clever Technology Unless you’re going to be trekking through remote jungle, the majority of places you’re contemplating going on vacation will allow you to access the internet while away. This gives you a chance to do a little work before you spend the rest of the day by the pool. There’s a couple of key programs in the Office suite that can help you do this:
- OneNote can allow you to make notes and plan future actions, which you can then view when back home.
- OneDrive allows you to browse and upload relevant files, so any document you work on while away can be easily accessible when you’re home.
Make use of these options, especially if you have a few members of staff still working on your business while you’re away. You can communicate effectively with one another from all over the world – so do so.
2. Use A Timer
You’re not going to be launching new products or initiatives while you’re out of the office – or at least, you shouldn’t be. For the most part, you’ll just be checking in with what’s happening and responding to any client queries that can’t wait.
It’s easy to lose time when you’re doing this. One minute you’re just checking in; suddenly it’s five hours later and you’re in the middle of planning a presentation that’s not due for months.
Don’t allow this to happen. Set yourself a strict timer – 10 minutes is a reasonable length of time – and then put the laptop away when it runs out.
- The Once Per Day Rule
Unless absolutely necessary, you should only need to check in with your business dealings once per day. If you let yourself dive into the business mechanics multiple times per day, you’re not going to feel you have really had any time away at all. Around 3 p.m. is a good time, as it gives you chance to respond to anything that arrives during the day while leaving some of the working day left to action anything you need to do immediately.
By following the above, your next vacation could be one of the best you’ve ever had – even if there’s a little business along with the relaxation!