Business owners are full of reasons why they don’t take at least as much time off as those in paid employment; no-one else can do it as well, there is no-one else, clients can’t possible cope without them, what if a new contract/client comes through. The list goes on and on and on and is packed with excuses not reasons. Part of the problem is that us entrepreneurs also tend to be control freaks and can’t stand the thought of not being involved in EVERYTHING!
Time away will make all the difference
We’ve all heard of burnout but contrary to what you might believe, burnout isn’t just a colloquial term for feeling tired and stressed. It is a recognised condition that has been defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a state of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” Metaphorically it can kill you and your business.
Whether you prefer to relax by the pool, head off an adrenalin junkie’s quest for adventure, soak up a bit of culture or feed your inner Chakra; time away will make the world of difference. You can read about the importance of travel in our Motivation article and how you owe it to your business, clients, and employees to stay fully energised.
There are two of us in our business and we have both gone through the guilt of taking time out. These days we make sure we do give ourselves regular breaks, but we have different approaches to doing it that we share below. One isn’t right and the other wrong they are simply our ways that work for us and therefore work for our business.
Switch Off Completely
To switch off completely you need to make sure you are very organised running up to the holiday. Identify the tasks that need doing and get as much of it done as possible beforehand and then either hand it over or update your client on how far you’ve got and when you will complete the work. A good tip is to block out a day or two pre-your holiday without meetings or disruptions to plough through to-do lists and make sure everything you needed to do is done. It is also sensible to leave your first day back free for emails and actioning anything urgent before you get back into day to day tasks. Give your clients notice, put an out of office on your emails and a message on your phone or, if possible, divert the number to someone else. The final thing is to switch everything off and head off to recharge those batteries.
Have a little peek
It’s great to switch off completely but very hard to do! If you know that you will be distracted on your holiday by constantly worrying about what is going on back at the ranch, then it may be better to plan in a little checking in time into your break. It’s still important to prepare in much the same way before you go and clear your desk of as many tasks as you can and to ensure that others are aware of anything that might crop up. I’d also still recommend setting your out of office and voicemail to holiday mode but rather than switching off completely allow yourself a set amount of time (no more than 2 hours) a day to stay in the loop. The advantage of this approach is that when you return there is less catching up to do but you do need to make sure that whoever you are holidaying with knows that you plan to spend a couple of hours a day working.
We’ve worked hard to get to this point but now we are quite disciplined about taking time out and find that our business benefits (as does our working relationship!).
Can you really afford NOT to take a holiday?
Be warned, a ‘holiday’ when you spend so much time working that you don’t feel like you’ve even been away is not only bad for you, it’s bad for your business and bad for your personal life too!
Don’t just take my word for it. In 2012, Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity, and tour operator Kuoni, conducted a study called The Holiday Health Experiment and discovered there are striking effects of not taking a holiday. The study found those who didn’t go away for a break had higher blood pressure, didn’t sleep as well and had higher levels of stress. Altogether 12 volunteers underwent a health assessment, wore heart monitors to measure their sleep patterns and resilience to stress, had psychotherapeutic tests and were given dietary and lifestyle advice during the summer. The study also found that the benefits of the break lasted at least a fortnight longer than the holiday itself and claimed that in some cases the positive effects could be felt for months.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that taking time out will end in disaster when in reality the disaster is more likely to come if you don’t take a break. Plus it’s great to have something to plan and look forward to.
If you enjoyed this then take a look at our SMILE newsletter. It’s packed with Support – Motivation – Inspiration – Lightbulb Moments – Expert Advice (see what we did there) for all businesses.
Enjoy your hols!