Let’s face it: after being ingrained in the nine-to-five grind five days per week, fifty weeks per year, it’s hard for anyone who has regular work responsibilities to truly get into “vacation mode.” Typically, you finally feel like you’re starting to unwind the day before your vacation ends. Owning a small business is stressful–sometimes VERY stressful. If you are a small business owner, you know it’s not easy to a) find the time for a vacation, and b) actually take, and fully enjoy, one. Just like everyone else, we small business owners need time away to recharge, experience quality family time, and just cut loose. But after the hard work establishing and maintaining a business, it’s difficult to break the habit of reaching for the iPhone, just wanting to take a peek at emails to make sure everything is alright back at the office.
So how do we do it? What is the way to “responsibly vacation” when you own your own business? Is there such a thing? After years at the helm, I am still trying to figure that out. Here are a couple of observations from my recent family trip, and a couple of ideas on how I hope to improve my approach when taking the next one.
Observation one: I am a worry wart, and a bit of a control freak, so I’ve allowed technology to sabotage my relaxation with nagging thoughts like “dare I look at my email?” “Should I check in?” “Am I a bad business owner and employer if I don’t look?”
I am fortunate to have a wonderful staff that is more than capable of handling things while I am away, yet I often insert myself into work situations by giving in and picking up the phone, checking emails, etc.
Idea one: Go somewhere where there is no cell service, completely isolated from the evil internet, allowing me to avoid falling into my own trap of insertion. Or use a second phone, without email set up, to which only the people who really need to reach me (family, one emergency contact at the office) have the number. And leave the work phone at home.
Observation two: I like to cross things off my list. Additionally, I don’t like the idea that a task is waiting on me for its completion. If you’re like me, you understand how it creates anxiety about returning to the office. Before you even leave for vacation, you’re already thinking of the things that won’t get done until you return.
Idea two: Plan vacation time around the pivotal points on current projects. Avoid sending out any invoices, estimates, or communications that may vie for for your attention while you’re away. Do your best to find a time to vacation that gives you a little break before and after your travel days.
Like I said, I am still learning how to have a guilt-free vacation. Next vacation, I’ll try my new ideas, track my progress, and keep you posted–but I’ll try not to dwell on it too much until I’m back in the office.