Well, I did it. I took a vacation. I left my business for 12 days and nothing blew up or fell apart. Success!
Before leaving, my stress levels had been compounding for about two months. I could feel that I was in the middle of upleveling my business and was making progress, but the burden of being a solopreneur was weighing on me immensely. I was working day and night to try and relieve my anxiety think the more I checked off my to-do list, the better I’d feel, but it just wasn’t happening. The stress kept adding up.
Luckily, I had a vacation planned.
While it felt like I shouldn’t leave my business and stall the progress I was making (and my clients needed me!), by the time my 12-day vacation rolled around, I was more than ready to go. We’d planned this trip about a year in advance. That isn’t our normal vacation-planning routine, but this trip was special. My hubby, Steve, was turning 40 and we’d been talking about doing a baseball trip for years. We decided to go to Boston, Washington and Philly to catch a few games and explore the cool cities.
We had a great time! And I have to admit that I needed the break so bad. It took me about 9 days of downtime to be able to think about work without getting anxiety. By day 10 or 11, I could finally think about going back to work and started to look forward to it again.
This wasn’t my first vacation since starting my business a year ago. I’d tried to go on a couple of trips where I’d told myself I’d spend most of the time relaxing and do just work a little… but you can guess how that went. Tip: Pick one or the other. If the trip is for relaxation, make it all about relaxation. If it’s a business trip, do work and throw in some relaxing. Just don’t let work get in the way of a real vacation (one meant to recharge your batteries) if that’s what you need.
So, it’s taken a few tries to really get this right, so I thought I’d spare you some pain by sharing my best tips. Whether you’re new to entrepreneurship or too scared of taking breaks from your business, keep reading because, seriously, you need a vacation. And not just because your spouse keeps begging you for one.
By overworking and not taking breaks, we risk burnout.
According to this article by Scientific American, “downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.”
When we’re deep in it, we don’t realize how our business can take over our whole existence. Sure, we love our businesses! Of course we do. But when our thoughts are constantly being flooded with thoughts about marketing, content, customers, and so on, it wears on us both mentally and physically.
So, here’s what you can do about it.
1. Plan well in advance
I’ve heard some people say they plan their vacation time at the start of each quarter and plug it into the calendar the same way they would a business meeting. I’ve also heard others say that they book off their vacation time at the beginning of each year even if they don’t have a trip booked or plans to take one. By marking your calendar early with this sacred vacation time, it ensures you take it. And it also helps you advise clients and set expectations early if you’re discussing longer-term projects. At the very least, if you have regular one-on-one clients, tell them 3-4 weeks in advance that your vacation is coming up.
2. Offer options for clients
If you have on-going one-on-one clients, providing them with different options for the time you’ll be away ensures that they feel supported and cared for. So, will a team member fill in for you? Can you do the work in advance? Or will you both agree to take a break while you’re away?
3. Get support
Whether you currently have a team or not, the best way to get rid of that pre-vacation anxiety is to get help. Decide what is essential while you’re away and what can wait till you return and delegate. You might hire a contractor or virtual professional, or you might even just hire a friend or family member that you trust to look after things while you’re away.
4. Schedule your social media
Make sure your vacation marketing strategy involves promoting anything that brings in residual income before and during your time away from the office. The goal is to have money coming in while you’re away, but of course these marketing posts should only be sprinkled in amongst your value-added content.
5. Delete work apps from your phone
Out of sight, out of mind, so get rid of those work apps if you’re bringing your phone! There’s no way you can look at them without thinking about work and this vacation is all about getting away so you can come back feeling recharged. You can easily download them again when you get to the office, but for now, do yourself a favour. I felt instant relief when I deleted the Gmail app from my phone while away.
6. Indulge a little
In my opinion, the best way to do that is to read a book. And I don’t mean a business book. Read a mindless, delicious novel that takes you far away. My choice was Eat, Pray, Love this vacation and it was glorious. Opening a book that isn’t work-related signals to your brain that it’s allowed to rest, tune out, and exist just for pleasure’s sake for a little while. Doesn’t that sound nice?!
Now, do not check in. As much as it feels like you have to, leave work at work. Be confident that you’ve left things in order and know that the chance of there being an emergency is close to none. This is your time to rest and recharge so you can come back to the office ready to meet your goals.
Like these tips? Please share them with a friend! And don’t forget to keep coming back for more.
Happy vacationing, everyone!