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How to take time off as a business owner

Get actionable tips to learn how to (finally!) take time off from your business. Just because you’re leading your company, it doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks like everyone else. Here’s how to make it happen without feeling like everything is on fire without you.

Have you ever thought, “I need to take some time off and recharge, but now just isn’t the right time.”

For Independent business owners, it can often feel like the right time never arrives.   As a business owner myself, who is also a mom to two active boys and a wife, I totally understand the need for work-life balance. But I prefer the term work-life blend. 

If you’re looking to achieve an optimal work-life blend, I’ve got you covered! I’m going to share with you my tips for taking time off so you can feel confident stepping away from your business to enjoy some well-deserved downtime.

Plan your time away in advance

I encourage you to sit down with your calendar today and mark down the dates you want to take time off. Keep seasonality, aka your busy time, in mind as well as  important dates coming up in your business.

For example, being away right before or during a significant launch would not be ideal.  The benefit of writing down the time you want to take off in advance is that you’ll be more likely to actually follow through. And you really deserve that vacation so mark it down in your calendar. 

Pro Tip: My goal is to plan for some time off each quarter of the year. Sometimes it’s simply a long weekend and other times it might be a one or two week trip. 

Decide if you are going to be unplugged or plugged in

I’m a big fan of unplugging and not checking your email or any work apps while on vacation, but I know that is not always possible for everyone. If you decide to stay a little plugged in, set boundaries for yourself.

Arrange a specific time of day and length of time that you’ll allow yourself to do your check-ins and that’s it. Stick to those boundaries and you’ll still enjoy your vacation. 

Communicating your time off in advance

Communicating with your clients and team members is essential. Let them know about your time off as soon as possible, preferably four to six weeks in advance.

Make sure to also communicate whether you will be completely unplugged or available from time to time. If you plan to be available, be clear about when those blocks of time will be.

Send an email detailing all of this information so that it’s there in writing for everyone to reference as needed.

Pro Tip: Want to make sure you’re available to be contacted if something urgent comes up? Plan specifically who needs to contact you and how you want to  be contacted.

Plan and delegate

As your time off approaches, plan your work and projects accordingly. It might not be the best idea to kick off a brand new client or project in the few days leading up to your vacation. Think about any work that can be done ahead of time or delegated to other team members.

The goal is to enjoy your time off and not spend every second thinking about all the things you did not get done.  Keep in mind (and be real with yourself) that you most likely will not get everything that you wanted to do before you leave.  

Be sure to schedule anything that can wait until your return and, when possible, delegate it to a team member. 

Automate repeatable tasks

One of the biggest steps you can take to ensure a peaceful break is to use automated business processes. If you’re constantly worried about things getting done, it won’t be a worthwhile break.

Instead, take the time to consider everything you can automate. With HoneyBook, for example, you can streamline the entire booking process. If you want to make sure your business is still moving forward without you, just set up an automation that sends as soon as someone inquires through your contact form.

You can build custom steps, but I recommend sending a thank you email immediately after an inquiry that includes a sales brochure about your business. For instant booking, you can use a pricing guide that lets clients select their services, sign a contract, and pay! It all depends on what you want your clients to do when you’re not around to take consultation calls or answer emails immediately.

Your vacation is calling, but first follow this check-list:

  • Send a quick reminder to your clients or team members two weeks before your scheduled time off. 
  • Schedule sync meetings with anyone important to your business  before you leave so everyone is on the same page. 
  • Draft and schedule your email responder for the days you will be away. 
  • Turn on your automated workflows.
  • Turn off all notifications on your phone. 
  • Don’t forget to include when you’ll be back and who someone can contact if they need immediate assistance in all of your communications. 

Remember, the goal for your time off is to rest and recharge. You did the prep work ahead of time to enjoy your time off and not feel guilty about it. 

When you return from vacation

When possible, try to schedule one buffer day when you return so that you’re not diving straight into work calls and meetings on your first day back from vacation. This extra day will give you the space you need to settle back into your routines and take care of important life chores like unpacking, laundry, and grocery shopping. You’ll also be more productive back at work if you’ve given yourself the time to get all other tasks out of the way.   

Spend thirty to forty-five minutes going through your email and adding any to-dos to your favorite task manager like HoneyBook. You will be ahead and alleviate overwhelming feelings.  Taking time off as a business owner is vital to loving your business and not feeling burnt out. Make this a non-negotiable even if it’s just one time a year.

You can slowly build on that and take more time off. I also want to encourage you not to feel guilty about taking time off. You work hard and you deserve some space to recharge so that you can bring that positive energy back into your business.

Many of us started our businesses for freedom and flexibility. Revisit your reason for starting your business so that it can recenter you and light a spark within you!

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