Mom, my throat is sore.
Honey, my client has an emergency.
Have you ever been stuck in vacation woes?
As a mom to five children, I struggled to enjoy traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel, but it seemed like drama ruled the day when traveling with the kids.
Since my Mom lived about 600 miles south of us, at least 2 or 3 times a year, we journeyed down I95 to I85. Adventures like ice storms, car sickness, weak bladders, and one year of arriving with three having strep. These adventures have made me immune to most travel woes. Now that I own and manage my own business, I have different kinds of travel woes. I am finding that taking time away from my 24/7 business demands is challenging.
Today, we will learn more about how to prepare properly for our time off work.
Here are three thoughts to provoke you, two ideas to inspire you, and one item to act on!
Three Thoughts to Provoke
Number One. Letting Go.
With all of the responsibilities we have, we wonder, “Can an entrepreneur take a vacation?” I took the time to answer that question in my post from a few years ago. The blog post detailed a few things that we need to let go of to have a peaceful vacation. Spoiler alert: of course, with preparation, we can take a break!
Let’s think for a moment; what are the things that distract us the most during our time away? There is email that constantly pings on our devices. How about text messages from a team member,
“I just have one quick question for you.”
Sounds familiar, right?
Do you have trouble just letting go of the mental minutia? Often when we have a few minutes of quiet, we start reviewing our to-do lists—thinking about things that may have been left undone.
Now we have to concentrate and discipline our minds to let things go. If needed, have a notepad where you can jot quick thoughts to review when you return to the office.
Be sure to read the blog post mentioned earlier for more ideas!
Number Two. Communication.
It has become some cliché to say, “Communication is the key to the success of every team,” but no matter how many times you say this phrase, it’s never going to lose its value. It is essential to keep in mind that communication will be a challenge during your time off.
Make sure you communicate to your team about your communication preferences while away. I recently asked my client if her upcoming trip was a working trip or one of “I don’t want to be disturbed.”
Under what conditions can your team contact you? What is a real emergency? The quieter time you have away from emails, phone calls, and texts, the faster you acclimate to your away time.
If you work with clients, communicate with them as least two weeks in advance to let them know your availability. That will give them enough time to look ahead at their projects and adjust to the idea of you being out of the office. Have a point person for them to contact in case of an emergency. That point person decides whether it is a real emergency.
Number Three. Returning.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines vacation as,
“a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation.”
As the definition states, you are spending time away from your business. That downtime is vital to our mental health, but we often dread the fallout.
One of the fallouts is getting back into work mode. I recommend NOT scheduling a full workload your first couple of days back in the office. Give yourself some time to review outstanding emails, text messages, and phone calls. On the 2nd day, start prioritizing the work. Make a plan. Figure out what the top three things are that need to be done. Take a break, and then repeat the process. By the 3rd day, you should be back in full swing.
Make sure on the first day to connect with your team and debrief on essential items. Have them communicate via email non-urgent items. Handle these in the next week.
Two Things to Inspire
Number One. Importance of Preparation.
You can always rely on the founding fathers to find wisdom. I came across this quote from Benjamin Franklin. I am sure you have heard it before,
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
One team member told me how his vacation turned into the opposite of relaxing during his tenure on a previous job. His break collided with a coworker’s emergency exit, the only coworker who knew how to deal with his tasks. Arístides had to log in for a couple of days to deal with his absence, making his vacation un-enjoyable.
Although there was a plan in place, the team wasn’t in sync, and the worst-case scenario happened. More preparation would have made the emergency easier to handle. It’s easy to say this in hindsight, but that extra bit of prevention would have helped.
Number Two. Virtue of Balance.
Alan Cohen, author of “A Daily Dose of Sanity,” shared the following insight,
“There is virtue in work, and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
It is common to overlook rest sometimes and not give it the importance it deserves. Find the virtue in balance. Putting in the prep before your time off is an extra effort that will pay off, and your body and soul will appreciate it truly.
Your Action Item
Start planning now for your time off. Start the process of having a Standard Operating Procedure manual. Outline your systems and have team members review and duplicate them.
Once you delegate some of these tasks, you may find you never go back to doing it all yourself.