How to Successfully Take Time Off

As I sit down to write this post, it is the last day of work for us for 2022. By the time you read this, we will be visiting family who reside in other states and enjoying the holidays. I’m optimistic there will be cookies involved! As is often the case at the end of each year, I spend time reflecting on past years. This year, my mind wandered to the mistakes I’ve made in trying to successfully take time off for holidays and vacations as an entrepreneur. I’d like to share some of those with you so you can learn from them.

Take Time Off

As an employee, I rarely got time off between Christmas and New Years because for some companies, it is the busiest time of the year. Later, when I launched Confluence Business Solutions, I went into the holidays with a similar mindset. I’d be working up until Christmas Eve and between Christmas and New Years and then back to business as usual come January. 

Except that wasn’t what happened. As a business owner/freelancer I found that most of my clients went dark and any opportunity to get started with anyone new essentially evaporated the week before Christmas and didn’t really get going, with any vigor, until after the New Year. In the first few years, it was a financial strain because I seemed to never be prepared. Eventually I took this as my own cue to do better for me, my family, and the business(I know, I’m a slow learner!).

Here’s what I’ve learned to be the best advice for how to successfully take time off as an entrepreneur:

Schedule Time Off

Might as well start with the most obvious. Here’s the thing…I know I’m not the only one that had to make a mental shift when I became responsible for managing my own time. Coming from the nonprofit world, where no matter how much work you do, it’s never enough, it’s difficult to stop and turn it off. Scheduling time off allows for self care and rest so you can renew your appreciation for why you are an entrepreneur. Being a business owner isn’t easy and for many of us. Our minds are still going long after we’ve shut down the computer for the day. Self care during the holidays means giving your mind a break. Take this time to focus on time with your family and friends. Make a puzzle (do you make a puzzle or do a puzzle?), binge-watch movies, and sleep in. All this time enables your mind to rest so that when you return, you are reenergized.

Plan Ahead

I remember the first year I decided to take time off. I assumed it would be like all the previous years where clients took the entire holiday season off. Except that year, not all of them did and those that were working were surprised when they learned I was on holiday. This could have easily been avoided, had I just let my clients know in advance of my intentions. Planning ahead in your business could involve any number of preparations. For example, make sure you communicate to your customers your altered hours of operation. Set up any time sensitive meetings in advance that need to occur at the first of the year. Create content in the weeks prior and automate scheduled communications to be working in the background while you’re away. Personally, I scheduled two personalized text messages yesterday to be delivered to two prospects on New Year’s Eve. I am honoring my promise to them for a nice reminder before my promotion runs out. This way I get to relax knowing my business is working, even when I’m not. With a little planning, you too can create space for relaxation.

Designate a Key Decision Maker

If your time off does not mean a full scale company wide break, this one is super important. Identify someone to be in charge during your absence and communicate that to your entire team. Recently we had a client that went out of town during a critical point in her business. No one was appointed decision maker. When it came time to make decisions, no one was empowered in her absence. As a result, essentially things fell apart while she was gone. It was painful and sad to watch and an expensive learning lesson for our client. Setting a key person to make decisions creates confidence for everyone and helps maintain morale in your absence.

Test Your Systems

When you have proper systems in place, your business runs without you. Use the break to test out how well your business functions while you’re not in it. When you are doing nothing in the business, is the business still performing at peak? Are there dumpster fires occurring that you will return to, or emergencies that bring you back sooner than you planned? Taking scheduled, expected time off provides the opportunity to see any issues or inefficiencies that exist so you can address them for unexpected times.

Minimize Check-Ins

For some entrepreneurs, it’s not possible to be 100% checked out. Maybe it’s the nature of the work, or personnel capabilities, or simply the stage of growth you’re in. If you must check in to your business while you’re on holiday, set a time limit for yourself and stick to it. Maybe something such as a 30-minute email check every morning to make sure everything is running smoothly. But when that timer goes off, the computer is closed and you’re back to vacation mode. Trust me, your family will thank you for it!

Take Time Off With The Help of Automated Systems

Taking some well-deserved time off this holiday season is crucial to maintaining your energy and productivity levels throughout the year. By following these tips on how to successfully take time off, you can set yourself and your business up for a productive and enjoyable holiday season. And, if you’re not in a position where your business can run on autopilot, we can help. Book a call with us now. Let’s chat about how we can help you automate and systematize your business so you can enjoy more time off stress-free. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the cookies are calling my name.

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