I’ve seen a repetitive cycle in business.
During one phase, I experience a SUPER intense buzz when my brain just doesn’t stop and every decision seems crystal clear. I’m up all hours of the day and night. I won’t stop talking about what I’m up to. And I am so driven to keep going! I work, and work, and work.
The second phase is less intense, but still really busy. During this time, I’m hustling and spending my time doing EVERYTHING else I need to do to make money.
But if I keep going like this for too long, a third phase comes in. It’s the one when I feel completely demotivated and don’t want to do anything.
Or worse, I start to see the signs that I’m burning out.
this is the phase that can kill business.
It’s the phase I try to avoid at all costs.
And yet, it is SO HARD to turn off and take a step back.
Hands up if you feel my pain.
Wow…that’s a lot of hands!
what’s stopping you?
Do you worry that if you take a break away from business it will halt your progress or cause a deal to fall through?
Perhaps you fear that you’ll look lazy or uncommitted.
Are you afraid to miss that important email or phone call?
Maybe you don’t have anyone to run the business so you can take a break.
Or maybe you’re overwhelmed by the thought of everything you’ll need to catch up on upon your return.
But no matter how much you love doing what you do, sometimes you really do need to take a break from it all.
To gain a new perspective.
To find your creativity.
If you’re fed up of seeing photos of sandy beaches and poolside cocktails on your social media timeline and craving your own escape, follow these tips so you too can take a break.
1. plan early
You probably can’t be as spontaneous as you were in the past with holidays. But the good news is that most businesses are cyclical. There is always a low season before things get really hectic again.
Try to time your break during a period when business is naturally slower for you. This is the best time to recharge and get ready for the next cycle of chaos.
With a bit of advanced planning, you can feel less stressed, get on top of all loose ends, let people know you’ll be away, and have a good idea of what you’ll need to have in place to cover your business.
2. create a list of necessary tasks
Part of your planning will include figuring out what is absolutely critical to still take place in your absence.
Make a note of all the things that you find yourself doing in your business over the coming weeks or months. It may help to structure these under functional areas (i.e. marketing, accounting, relationship management, distribution, etc.).
Then from this list of tasks, identify all that are critical and must still be done during your absence versus those that can wait until your return.
3. automate what you can
From that list of critical tasks, identify which can be automated by the countless tools available for small businesses. You don’t need to get too complex, though.
During my recent 3 day escape in Watamu, I automated my emails through Mailchimp, scheduled social media posts through Planoly, set up an auto-responder for my emails advising people that I would be inaccessible, and updated my calendar so clients could see my availability and book slots for after my holiday was completed.
The rest could wait a week.
4. delegate the rest
You should see your list of critical tasks shrinking and will be left with those that can’t be automated.
If you do not have additional members of staff to help you, you could hire a virtual assistant. There are a number of online services available, but you can also ask around for recommendations from peers.
Relinquishing control in your business can sometimes be REALLY tough, so start this process early.
Whether with internal staff or external support, allow time for the person to learn the tasks, make decisions, and fix mistakes. Build up your trust in them so you know they’ve got you covered.
If you have the right team in place, things will not fall apart in your absence!
5. be contactable
Most of us struggle to shut off completely from our businesses and it’s much harder to do with the ‘convenience’ of technology.
Ask your team members or virtual assistant to contact you by telephone (and not email!) for any urgent issues.
Knowing that they will call if something comes up should help keep you free from the trap of ‘I’ll just quickly read this email’ leading to hours in front of your computer.
If giving up that much control is too much for you, set agreed times with your team / assistant to receive business updates.
5. plan for your return
Allow yourself at least a few hours, if not a full day, to catch up on what’s happened in your absence and deal with any matters that need your immediate attention.
When possible, I block out some time in my calendar during the first couple of days so I can hold on to that holiday bliss for just a little longer and not get immediately stressed out by the unexpected.
You’ve done everything that you can – planned, automated, delegated and switched off! Take the time to relax, reconnect, and enjoy that much needed break.
You deserve it!
over to you
I’d love to hear what you think. What are your tips when planning that well-deserved break? Leave a comment below, let us know.
Corrina Gordon-Barnes says
Oh yes, sounds familiar indeed!
I think a mindset of TRUST is so important when we’re self-employed. Trust that we can leave our business (either on its own or in the hands of a team member) and it’ll manage okay without us for a short time. Kind of like a parent trusting their child to be okay in our absence 🙂