Get Out! Three Foolproof Ways to Get Yourself Out of the Office

take-vacationSo, 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

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  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    YES!!! I took my first real two week vacation in ten years back in April this year and the office didn’t burn down, my clients survived and all was well. As a bonus, I recharged my batteries and didn’t really think about work more than one particular time.

    We had an associate designer take care of any design issues that might come up and a really great developer (sub contractor) manage website related issues. I took a laptop with me just in case but ended up just using it to download photos and sync my iTouch.

    I remember the night before thinking, hey wait a minute… Normal people do this every year and sometimes twice a year. Now I can’t wait until next years vacation!!

  • Amit

    It seems pretty manageable when i read it, but practically i never managed to do so. Reason being i am working with a organization here, and we have short term client and most of the time they are rather new. So i can not afford to tell them that i am going on leave as they might get offended and even if i tell my client and if confirm with it, still there is no other in office who can replace me for few days. So in my case i do not think i have the privilege of vacations.

  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    @Amit
    I suppose it depends on where you are but I had the same ideas for the last 10 years. One day however it struck me as odd that although all my clients have holidays I don’t and that was when I planned a real vacation; away from work and day to day distractions.

    If your client is offended because you decide to have a break from hard work, then perhaps they aren’t a good client : )

  • Anonymous

    “This may seem like a simplified list”

    The simplicity is what makes it work.

    The only other thing i would add is to write up instructions on how to do certain tasks that may need to be done when you are away. I used to work for a small company and found that whenever I went on holiday for more than a few days I would get phonecalls every other day asking how to do (what were to me) fairly simple tasks.

    One disaster I couldn’t plan for whilst away though was when a new staff member dismantled our web stats machine and removed “the gunk” from the processor to make the computer work.

  • Anonymous

    @ awasson

    Actually its not clients, its the upper management, I mean they all go on vacations every 3 months. But when we apply for leaves, they always as this question, “who will manage your projects? Who will take care of your clients?”. And if i have to do all this while being on vacation, i would rather be in office than.
    &nbsp
    But yeah! I am planning for a motorcycle getaway. Let see how it works out. :)

  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    Oh, that brings back memories…

    I used to work for a large retail electronic chain. In lieu of paid vacations, they would pay us out our “holiday pay” and we would happily work right through the year. It was like getting a bonus. We worked 12 hour shifts during sale season and at Christmas/Boxing Week I don’t even remember how many days and hours we worked. Although I had some crazy good times, I’m glad not to be working through the crazy hours and non-holidays.

    Good luck on the motorcycle holiday… Given the opportunity, I’ll jump on my GSXR750 and log some miles too. It’s a little sporty (cramped) for doing any distance but I’ve been riding it for so long, I doubt it would really bother me much : )

  • Amit

    @ awasson:

    Thanks mate. I am going on a 2000 mile trip for 4 days. So hoping this time i will not get any calls from office while i am driving (it gets frustrating) :). BTW GSXR750 is cool bike. My dream is to buy Ducati 1098 one day.

    It felt good discussing with you.

    Take care and ride safe.

  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    @Amit:
    Have a good time on your ride… I’d love to have a 1098 too. My borther-in-law has 2007 1098 Tricolore that he bought new as a Ducati mechanic. What a bike : )

    Take care,
    Andrew