Ah yeah, you can feel it already… the warm sunshine resting on your shoulders, you’re sitting poolside or on the beach. Your mind drifts off and you are so there, so ready for a holiday. It’s time to shed the stress and worry, let your hair down and chill out!!! Then the phone rings. You snap back to reality… Whoa!!! You look at your desk and your to-do folder is bulging, you have a slew of emails in your In-box and you think to yourself, “How will I ever get away?”
This is the reality we all face when we want to take some time off…may I add, some well-deserved time off. We know it’s in our best interest to do so and we know how great we’ll feel when we head out to go camping or head up north to the cottage to “unplug”. Having said that, it’s the preparing to leave that is most daunting! I really believe it’s the unknown variables that hangs us up, “What if I lose a client because I’m not around?” “What if they go to my competition?” What if, what if, what if! Before we know it, we’re so stressed out thinking about the “what ifs” that we lose sight of the importance and benefits of downtime. The truth is that most people actually expect you to take a holiday! As an entrepreneur, I have found that preparing effectively for a vacation has increased in importance! It used to be that when I left for vacation, when I worked in ‘The Big Job’, I’d put my “Out of Office” message on and state very nicely, “and in my absence, please contact Susie Smith at email@susiesmith or I will respond to you upon my return.”
Now that I’m running my own business, there’s just me! So what does the message look like these days? I have learned to be creative and to better manage the number of e-mails and phone calls, so people don’t have to wait for a response. My Out of Office message directs them to my website, where they may review our upcoming workshops and events. This actually helps manage the volume and type of email inquiries. I have found, that by providing the inquirer with some high-level information, their questions are usually more specific and they have also spent some time finding out more about my business… it’s a win-win!
Check out these 5 Steps to a happier you and to help you enjoy your vacation:
- Prepare for your vacation, starting two weeks before! Yes, it’s critical that you take inventory of what absolutely needs to be complete before you take off for vacation, assess their level of priority, and then book all of those tasks into your schedule. You will be much more relaxed getting through the tasks and more likely to complete them. Examples: file your HST, month-end invoicing/payroll, schedule social media posts or advertising, to name a few. Think about hiring a temporary admin person to cover the basics.
- Use your calendar as your to-do list. As stated in step 1, book everything into your schedule, make sure to set automatic reminders and it’ll get done. Give yourself some breathing room; prioritize tasks, schedule meetings according to importance and what makes the most sense for your business. Give each task the stress-test, “Can this wait?” If it cannot, then that task goes to the top. If it can wait –schedule it into your calendar at a later date.
- Don’t book any unnecessary meetings or networking the week before your vacation. You can network and book meetings during the other 51 weeks of the year. If you try and attend networking and other meetings, all you’ll be thinking about is how much you have to do. You’ll feel and appear distracted and edgy. Schedule meetings and networking events when you can actually be in the moment and enjoy the people you’re with. Think about it, you represent your business every time you’re out, so give yourself a break –don’t cram!
- Let that call go to voicemail! Breathe… if it’s important, they’ll leave a message. If you pick up that phone, you might be in for a lengthy phone call – just let it go. Also, it’s a good idea to have a service level agreement built into your voice mail message that states when you’ll get back to them, for example: I’ll return your call within 24 hours OR I’ll get back to you within two business days.
- Set your “out of office” on the morning of the last day you’re at work and change your voice message. Again, breathe. This is what it means to take yourself off the grid the day before your holiday and you won’t believe the relief you’ll feel when you do this step. You’ll be way more productive and anyone calling or emailing you, will know that you’re not available. You will have that entire day to take care all those last minute tasks before you leave the office!
The best way to give your all, is to look after yourself and remain healthy and well. You, your family and your clients will all benefit when you take time to relax and get away –so go ahead, book that time off, follow these 5 Steps to a Happier, more enjoyable holiday. You’re worth it!
Written by: Heather Wilson, ATC of Spark Your Vitality
**Credit for the image featured in this blog post goes to: Mickey O’Neil (Unsplash)