Taking time off as an entrepreneur is hard. While outsiders may think it’s easy because you don’t have to worry about vacation days or asking a boss, the reality is that it can be hard to unplug and unwind when you are responsible for your company.
But taking a break is necessary for our mental health. When done right, a summer vacation can be the ultimate reset for you to decompress and come back refreshed and ready to focus.
We’ve rounded up our best tips so entrepreneurs can take time off and enjoy their summer vacation, from the proper preparations to actually unplugging while you’re away.
1. Communicate early
Tell clients and employees early about your upcoming vacation so everyone is on the same page. While you may dread telling people because of fear of their perceptions, earlier is better, especially if the vacation will be for a significant length of time.
Giving everyone enough advance notice gives you time to address questions about responsibilities, project timing, and communication expectations. Which leads us to our second tip:
2. Set clear expectations
Depending on your business, these will be different for everyone. Some questions to ask yourself and communicate to others are:
- Will you be checking email at all, or will you be “off the grid”?
- Do you have a backup point person?
- How will this affect any project timelines?
- Who will be responsible for what while you are away?
Once you’ve figured these out, communicate the necessary information to teammates, employees, and clients.
3. Set your away messages
Leading up to vacation, many people have started adding upcoming out of office dates to their email signature in red font. This can be a great way to keep your vacation time on people’s minds, so they aren’t surprised by it (people often forget these things, even if you already had a conversation about it!).
Then, once you’re away, set an out of office message that lists your backup person, if applicable. You can also mention if or when you will be checking and responding to emails.
Most importantly, under promise or set strict email times in your away message. If you say something vague like, “I will be checking email periodically,” people do not know when or if to expect a response. Instead, use “I will be checking and responding to urgent emails once per day between 8-9 AM EST”, or “I will be responding to all emails when I return. If it is an urgent matter, please reach out to my colleague ________.”
If you use an all-in-one entrepreneur phone system, like NetLines, you can use built-in features for automated call management such as:
- An auto attendant to alert and route any incoming calls to the appropriate option
- Voicemail-to-email functionality so you can quickly scan incoming messages
- Call forwarding to make sure you stay off-the-grid but your clients aren’t left hanging
- and so much more
4. Plan activities
While tons of downtime may seem like what you need, not having anything planned can be a recipe for overworking. It’s easy to let 30 minutes of email become two hours of work in the morning if you don’t have a plan for the day. Not to mention that many entrepreneurs find themselves getting antsy with nothing on the agenda.
Look into local activities, even if it is just a list of restaurants you want to check out or a beach you want to go to. Planning activities doesn’t mean you need to book a tour every day; just try to set a schedule and stick to it!
5. Turn off notifications
Don’t let your phone ping and buzz you to death. Turning off email notifications is a great start, but some people may need a little more. If you find yourself getting bombarded with texts and calls for work, it may be time to consider a second phone number, a customer-favorite feature included with the NetLines app.
With a second phone number app, you can “silence” your business phone while you are on vacation, but still get your personal calls and texts. All of your notifications will be right in the app whenever you choose to open it.
6. Stick to your rules (See Tip #2)
Most importantly, stick to the rules and expectations that you’ve set! Once you make an exception once, clients and employees may come to expect that in the future. So remember your rules and follow them. If you really can’t help yourself from working on emails, consider saving them as drafts to send out on your last day, so the responses don’t come back and turn into a cycle throughout your entire trip.
7. Now enjoy your well-deserved vacation time!
With the proper preparation and a good attitude, even the most plugged-in entrepreneurs can enjoy their vacation time! And maybe check out one of these business books to enjoy while you relax.