So, when was your last vacation? And fess up…did you bring work with you? If you’re embarrassed to respond, don’t feel bad. I completely understand. Getting away from work, even for a short period of time, is a very common challenge for independent professionals. Let’s face it; it’s hard to do!
As entrepreneurs, we put so much into our businesses that when it comes time to take that much needed break, we have a hard time letting go. And then when we do get out and leave work behind, we worry that all will come tumbling down without us there.
If you ask me, I think this is a great quality to have as an entrepreneur. It’s this drive and dedication that helps you become successful, makes your clients appreciate you, and gives you that sense of accomplishment we all crave. But in reality, breaks shouldn’t be optional when you work for yourself. Vacation time is a must-have and something everyone should carve out time to enjoy.
But how do you do it? Is it possible to get away from work and really enjoy your next vacation? Yes! If you do these three things, you will be able to take a non-working vacation you enjoy. Really.
Make a Plan
As soon as you begin to plan a vacation, start to clear your calendar. Notify your clients that you will be out of the office. Give them a chance to send you their most important work so you can take care of it before you leave, but be sure they know when the cut-off is.
You’ll also want to begin the process of finding coverage for while you are away. If you don’t already have colleagues or subcontractors you work with, give yourself plenty of time to find some experienced professionals that can pinch-hit for you.
And keep in mind your own business administration tasks…make sure you plan time to handle your bookkeeping or other ongoing tasks before your vacation.
Set Your Priorities
Take time to figure out what needs to be done before you can take some time off (the must-do’s, not the nice-to-do’s), prioritize the list and set a due date. Make it manageable and realistic, though, or else you’ll just end up sabotaging your plans.
Give yourself enough time to take care of the highest priority items and get them done little by little in the weeks prior to your vacation. Beware that this is not a good time to procrastinate. Do everything you can to keep yourself on-task. You may also want to enlist the help of a family member to keep you accountable and on schedule.
Leave Work Home
If you find it difficult to fight the temptation to peek at your BlackBerry when you’re not working, don’t bring it! Or, give it to someone else on your trip to hang onto while you’re enjoying the sun. Really, what’s the worst that can happen if you’re not online 24/7? If you followed your plan, you should have nothing to worry about.
If leaving your BlackBerry, iPhone and/or laptop home is just completely frightening for you (it is for me!), set certain times each day when you will check-in. Feeling like you’re in the loop at least for a short period of time may give you the peace of mind you need to not be tempted to check-in later on and really enjoy your vacation.
This may seem like a simplified list, but it really works. You just need to decide you are taking time off, prepare for it, and off you go. So, who’s in? The picture above looks pretty good to me!
Image credit: Chris Windras