Whether you are traveling for the holidays or taking a break from the world for a weekend, we all need time off. But sometimes the stress of preparing to go on vacation -- and the fear that everything is going to fall apart while you're away -- can make you think that it isn't worth all the trouble.
Don’t let it!
Here are six tips to help you set yourself up for a stress-free break in the action.
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1. Know what needs to happen
Forget “to-do” lists. Instead, make ten "needs to happen" notes. What is absolutely necessary for you to accomplish before you take your time off? And honestly, what can wait till you return? Once you look at it that way, your perspective will change.
2. Pick a slow time to take off
Most businesses have a slower time of year when you can feel less guilty about the time you spend away. My business is dead the last week of the year: most client offices closed for the holidays and my customers are harder to reach. Even if I wrote a million emails or called to do a thousand pitches, no one would be there to answer me.
3. Line up coverage
Make sure your team is looped in on any projects you are in the middle of working on and set up back up for any tasks that need might pop up. At my office, one team member always builds a rock-solid one-sheet detailing all she does and what may occur. We never worry when she’s away (and we only hope she remembers to bring her sunscreen to the beach while she’s gone).
4. Start the countdown clock
Motivate yourself by looking forward to the time you are taking away. I find I bang out the most work during the last few weeks before a planned vacation. Use that excitement and energy to end on a strong note so you can leave knowing you kicked some butt on your way out the door.
5. If you must check in, schedule it and stick to it.
I never fully take time off from the startup where I work, but while away, I do set times to check in. Maybe look at email only at 10 AM and 3 PM, that way all is covered and you can enjoy longer parts of the day with less worry. My team knows if they need a question answered, that’s when I can do it. One big rule: I try never to look at my email before bed during a break from the office. During my time off, I need to sleep well and recharge, not make my life more stressful.
6. Get Ready to Relax
“You are worthless to me when you’re burnt out.” I have been told before and it’s true. This year my vacation is not to a tropical island but to my home. I plan to spend time with my family and catch up with a few friends. I may catch a movie, read a novel or get a manicure. And sure, the year ahead at my job will be in the back of my mind, but the most important thing will be to rest and recharge for the challenges ahead.
Trust that with a little prep, we can all relax more. For a few days each year, put your self-care above all else. Your business needs you to come back and be your best self. So, bon voyage!