When you run your own business, it can be hard to get away. It seems like there is always something left to be done, and in the back of your mind you probably spend your holidays thinking about all the work that will have to be caught up on when you return.
But taking a break is crucial for the health of your business and your own mental health. It can help keep you motivated, give you fresh inspiration and insights, and – if the business love is wearing a little thin – can help you rediscover your passion all over again.
Regular short breaks and timely long breaks should be built into your business planning right from the very start.
A regular short break might simply be that you don’t work over the weekend, and have a complete digital detox on Sundays. These breaks won’t usually require any preparation. The show simply goes on and you can pick up where you left off on Monday.
The occasional longer breaks, such as family holidays or a week long stint over Christmas, will need to be planned for. Here’s how to do just that.
The most important thing you can do for your business (and for your own stress levels) is to create processes. Also known as systems or procedures, processeshelp you to create boundaries between yourself and your business by ensuring that any task could be taken over by someone else at any given time.
Every single task that you complete in your business should be recorded and filed so that someone else can take over from you in an instant.
For more information about creating systems, CLICK HERE.
Find a team you can trust
Even if you don’t have a full-time team, it’s important to find a few people that you can trust with specific tasks who will take the pressure off you while you have a break.
If you have a VA, set them up with specific tasks that they can complete while you’re out of the office.
I’ve just started using Trello to communicate tasks with members of my team and it’s working well. It helps us all keep track of where things are at and keeps our inboxes clear of all the back and forth. We can contact one another with questions or updates within Trello (kind of like instant messaging) so it keeps all the information in one place.
Create a plan
If you know in advance when you will be taking time off, you can plan your business year around these dates. If you know that you’ll be taking 2 weeks off over Christmas and New Year, don’t plan any major marketing projects during that time. Create the marketing that you’ll need ahead of time and schedule it in so that you can effectively “set and forget”.
It can also be really helpful to follow up a major business project with some down-time or time off so that you can recuperate and come back with renewed vigour. Product launches and time-sensitive marketing campaigns can be exhausting.
Let it go
Like Elsa in Frozen, sometimes you just need to let it go. Set your auto responder and take some time off. Halt dispatch for a week and just go away. Close the books, close the laptop, clear some space in your mind and your heart.
The whole world won’t come crashing down if you don’t respond to emails within 24 hours.
Stop stressing about it and actually enjoy your time off.
You might even find that after a few days of not thinking about your business, you’ll come back with a fresh mindset and a new way of looking at your plans.
Some great tips from other business owners.
Kristy Rigby of Boutique Brands:
“My family really need me to take a break over Christmas New Year, and I need a chance to stop and reassess the way I do my work-life balance. So we’ll close dispatch 22nd December (because who wants dispatch only 2 days out from Christmas anyway) and restart dispatch 4th January. My business coach and I have worked on our marketing strategy to keep things ticking over across January while I “work on” the business for the month. Hubby is still working until 9th January and we have decided not to do daycare and holiday care for the girls across the school holidays this year. So January will be a juggle, but I am looking to keep strict boundaries around tasks I do over this time at allocated times of the day, and keep the rest of the day for the family.”
Love this, Kristy! Especially love the fact that you have a marketing strategy all sorted so that you can rest a bit easier during January.
Lauren Micale of Your Write Hand -Virtual Assistant:
“I am taking a break for a couple of weeks. I have contacted all my clients, letting them know I am away, to check if there is anything they think that might come up over Christmas and that we need to get organised prior. I’ll still check emails but will have an auto responder on. I really need to work on work-life balance for next year and am going to try and get a few things organised for my business.”
Great idea to let clients know ahead of time, Lauren. This helps curb any anxiety and stress on both sides. And I love the idea of spending some of your time off planning for a more balanced 2016!
Toni Nightingale of My Teddy
“We are going beach camping. Totally off grid, I’m making my husband sign a contract this year, so he doesn’t climb a sand dune and hold his phone up in the hope of getting signal! I’m also turning messages off on Facebook, which is going to be my Christmas gift to myself. I’ll have an email auto responder set up and phone calls going to message bank. We are also looking at getting a landline next year, so we’re not taking calls at all hours. We are finishing 22nd and back at work on the 4th.”
I love this, Toni. Facebook messages off – yes please! And a landline – an awesome way to plan for better boundaries in your biz.
- Grab your 2016 calendar and schedule in your business breaks.
- Work out exactly what tasks you need to complete in order to prepare your business for these planned breaks, with as little stress as possible.
- Go and do it!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments. How do YOU prepare your business for time off? What do you need to implement in order to make it happen more smoothly in 2016?