3 Steps To A Guilt-Free Vacation
With so many things on our to-do lists, the idea of taking a week or two off to lounge by a pool all day seems preposterous. Without our presence on site to supervise everything, our businesses will fall apart, we assume. At the very least, we’ll return from vacation to find tasks have piled up while we’ve been away, causing us to work three times as hard playing catch-up.
On those rare occasions we do take a day or two off, we spend the day checking our e-mails and talking to clients by phone. All of this constant connectedness has a price: in a study of 13,000 middle-aged men, respondents who skipped vacations for five years in a row were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who took one week off per year. A separate study of women found that vacationing women were eight times less likely to suffer coronary heart disease than women who skip vacations for six years or longer.
Vacationing has psychological benefits, as well. Small business owners can easily put in 15-hour days, working nights, weekends, and even holidays. Being constantly connected to work has consequences, namely burnout. Taking a week or two off will likely result in you returning refreshed and recharged, ready to take on the challenges that lay ahead. Before you go another year without a week off, here are three steps to a guilt-free vacation.
Step 1: Choose a Week
One of the biggest deterrents to annual vacations is choosing a week. Some of my colleagues have a set week each year that becomes “vacation time.” Whether they rent a condo at the beach or fly across the world, that’s time they set aside to enjoy family. Having a pre-scheduled week allows clients, employees, and colleagues to plan in advance to work around that one week per year. Even if you like to be more flexible in your vacation times, force yourself to choose at least one week per year and put it on the schedule well in advance.
Step 2: Set Automatic Replies
When you leave for vacation, set an “away message” on your work voicemail and e-mail. Let callers know that you are away from the office and will have limited access to messages. Leave an alternate number of an employee who can provide immediate assistance and let callers and e-mailers know that you’ll attend to messages as soon as you return. Doing this will free you up to truly enjoy yourself while you’re away.
Step 3: Leave the Cell Phone Behind
One of the best things about taking a cruise is that it disconnects you from the real world in a way a trip to the coast never can. If possible, leave your work phone at home, but if you absolutely can’t disconnect from your clients completely, at least leave it in your hotel room, safely packed away. Give yourself a time of day each day to check for emergency messages and enjoy your day. If there are messages, do not respond unless it is an absolute emergency. Remember, time away is good for your help.
You’ll be amazed how understanding your customers are when you tell them you’ll be out of touch for a week. Many of them take annual vacations themselves. Any client who is angered by your need to get a week off every now and then probably isn’t a client you would want to work with long-term.
Most of all, one of the best ways to fully enjoy your vacation is to have a staff member you can trust to run things in your absence. If you are a one-person shop, consider hiring an answering service or a temporary worker to handle small administrative tasks in your absence. You’ll be much more relaxed on your vacation if you know someone is taking care of clients while you’re gone.
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of National Small Business Week, Visa Business created the following infographic highlighting eye-opening facts about small business owners and examining important small business trends.