For the small business owner, the summer holidays can bring challenges. It also brings with it an interesting dilemma: do you or don’t you book a holiday.
The sun is out and your thoughts turn to holiday planning. You want to take the family away for a break. You need to relax and unwind. You are tired. You’ve read all those articles about burnout and stress and the importance of a good work-life balance. So, spurred on by your family, who are eager to see you for more than five minutes a day, you book the holiday. Then the worrying starts.
How will you manage to find time to actually take the holiday. And enjoy it without worrying when you do get there. There is just so much still to do.
Planning ahead is the key to a relaxed and relaxing holiday.
I’ve booked my holiday
As soon as you have booked your holiday, work back from the date of your holiday and create a list of your commitments, tasks and deadlines.
Move meetings and renegotiate deadlines that fall within, or two days either side of your holiday.
Plan to meet project milestones early so that they are completed before you go on holiday and are not in the back of your mind, niggling at you, whilst you are on holiday. Or agree to move the milestones so they fall after you return from holiday if that is possible.
Let clients know about your holiday dates in plenty of time. That way they will know when you will be unavailable. You can discuss alternative deadlines for tasks and agree on a plan that will work for you both.
Schedule your marketing ahead of the holiday. Write some extra blog posts or social media posts as you think of them during the year and keep them in reserve. Bring them out and dust them off, tidy them up a little perhaps, and then schedule them to go out whilst you are sunning yourself on the beach. This will keep your business front of mind with your clients.
Book your pet’s holidays too. Book the pet sitter or kennels. Arrange for a family member or neighbour to pop in to feed and check on caged animals if you aren’t sending them away on holiday to a pet care centre.
With one month to go before your Holiday
Write a list of things that still need to be done before the holiday. Just list the things you have to complete, deadlines that must be met and the tasks that you have left to do that will impact on your paid work. Leave the “nice to have” stuff for after your holiday. For more information about harnessing the power of lists to plan your activities, go here.
If you haven’t already done it, schedule your marketing items so you aren’t trying to do that at the last minute.
Keep your diary clear for two days before and two days after your holiday. This will feel strange but if a super urgent task comes in at the last minute it gives you wiggle room to deal with it without stress. It also gives you time to pack and get organised for the holiday itself.
The two days after the holiday allows you to come back to work, deal with things that have come in during the holiday, clear down your inbox and get back into the swing of work in a measured manner. Knowing you will have space to do that on your
return will mean you don’t spend the last three days of your holiday panicking about what you are going back to.
Plan the domestic things into the diary so they don’t end up being a mad rush the day before the holiday. Fridge emptying. Suitcase packing. Foreign currency purchase. Find your passport. Arrange a time to take the pets to the kennels. Buy a new bikini and some sunscreen. Get your prescriptions filled.
Just Before the Holiday.
Ask your VA to keep an eye on your inbox and social media, reply to any routine enquiries, and send a daily update of any items that need your urgent attention.
Finish your last minute tasks. Use your two spare days if you need to but ideally try to keep that last spare day for actual holiday preparation.
Delegate the tasks you want your VA or your team to do in your absence.
If you have a team, check everyone knows what they are responsible for. Do they all have the information they need to complete the tasks you have delegated to them? Are they clear about deadlines that must be met, calls that are expected, and work which remains outstanding?
Set the out of office reply to your Email telling people you are away. Explain who will answer emails in your absence, or, detail your return date.
Set an out of office message on your phone.
Yay. You’ve done it. You’ve got away. Hopefully, you are feeling relaxed and calm as you step into the car to drive to Norfolk for that narrowboat trip. Or you are feeling free as a bird as you fly off to sunny Spain.
One final suggestion. A digital detox is always a good idea during a break. Don’t check your email and social media constantly. Plan to check once a day. If you’ve left staff running your business, or your VA is keeping tabs on things, agree a time when they will email you an update so you don’t feel compelled to check every five minutes to see if it has arrived yet.
If it makes you feel more secure, agree on a method which a trusted staff member or your VA can use to contact you in an emergency. I use WhatsApp with my clients if they are abroad and text them when they are in the UK.
Enjoy your holiday, secure in the knowledge that you have planned things so that the business will survive for a week without you. Have fun. Make memories. Sleep a lot. Eat and drink well. Relax. Don’t think about work. It will be there waiting patiently for you on your return. None the worse for your absence. And when you do return you will feel relaxed. Refreshed. Productive. Enthusiastic.
So, what are you waiting for? Book that holiday. You won’t regret it.
If you’d like to learn more about how a VA can support you before, during and after your holiday, please get in touch here.