Numerous studies highlight the positive effects vacation time has on mental health. And yet countless small business owners find it nearly impossible to take time off for a vacation.
This has to change.
The American Psychological Association recommends taking a vacation to help prevent stress and burnout. For the sake of your own mental health and well-being, you should take a vacation at least once a year, according to another study.
You may be thinking, I can’t afford to go on vacation! And I’m so busy, I don’t even have the time to do it—whenever I try, it's always stressful.
First of all, vacations don’t have to be expensive. Consider a relaxation staycation to save money.
As for the second objection, keep reading for some helpful solutions.
1. Plan Your Vacation Far Ahead of Time
Find a time on your business calendar that makes sense to leave.
That means making sure no new projects are going live or new employees are being hired in that time frame.
Of course, you can still go on vacation during a project like that, but it tends to be a recipe for mayhem.
2. Plan How Work Will Get Done While You’re Gone
Ask your business partner or an employee to cover for you while you’re gone. Train them on how to do the specific tasks you need, and consider writing out specific instructions that they can refer to. (That way, they don’t have to call you if they forget the process!)
If you run your small business alone or only with the help of contractors, then you may need to put in some extra hours leading up the vacation.
This can put a strain on your family, but it helps to warn them ahead of time. Something as simple as this can help: “I really want to be present for our family vacation. So to make sure that happens, I’m going to be spending extra time working the next few days. I know it’s inconvenient, but it’s only so I can spend as much time with you on vacation as possible.”
In the same vein, plan for how you will manage your workload when you get back. One study found that overwhelming workloads upon returning to the job negate the relaxation value of a vacation. Make your vacation worth it by planning for a smooth return to work.
3. Communicate With Your Employees or Clients
The single most important ingredient to a smooth vacation without work interruptions is communication.
Be sure to communicate clearly with anyone who needs to know you’re going. That might include employees, clients you work closely with, and your business partner.
Do this sooner rather than later to avoid unnecessary confusion or stress.
Make sure all relevant parties know:
The dates you’ll be gone
Your availability while on vacation
When they can reasonably expect to hear back from you if they email, text, or call you
This helps to set expectations for while you’re gone. You don’t want employees or clients frustrated that you won’t return their calls simply because they didn’t know you were on vacation.
Speaking of setting expectations, it also helps to designate one person as the second-in-command for while you’re gone. That way, if anyone does need to reach you with work questions, it’s only one person instead of 5 or 15.
4. Finish Last-Minute Tasks
Before you board that plane to Hawaii, make sure to do any tasks you specifically need to do. That includes signing documents or making payments.
Don’t forget to set up an email autoresponder saying you’re on vacation and when you’ll be back in the office. You might want to consider doing the same thing with your voicemail.
The day before you leave, send a final email to employees to remind them that you’re out of pocket for the next week or so and what your availability will be.
5. Stick to Your Vacation Boundaries
It’s easy to cave when people push your vacation boundaries. You need to be firm.
The uncomfortable truth is that a lot of small business owners are a little bit obsessed with their work. In a sense, they have to be in order to make their endeavor thrive.
But that healthy obsession can quickly become unhealthy if they let it control their lives or take it with them into their relaxation times.
There’s a reason it’s called unplugging—you have to disconnect.
BONUS Tip: Hire Someone to Take Care of Tasks So You Can Take a Vacation
Are there specific tasks that take up so much of your time that vacation isn’t even a possibility? My friend, it’s time to hire someone—whether an employee or another business—to take care of that task for you.
For a lot of small business owners, that task is bookkeeping. That’s why so many of our clients go from totally frazzled to relaxed when they hire us to take care of it for them. Numbers and money aren’t everyone’s strong point. And even when they are, bookkeeping takes up a lot of time and mental energy.
Whether that task for you is bookkeeping or someone else, find an expert to do it for you. Trust us, the money you pay someone to do that task is worth the investment. After all, your time is money.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our accounting experts now to see if we’d be a great fit to take care of your bookkeeping. After all, you deserve a vacation!