“The breaks you take form work pay you back manifold when you return because you come back with a fresher mind and newer thinking. Some of your best ideas come when you’re on vacation.” —Gautam Singhania
Getting away can feel challenging as a business owner, entrepreneur, manager, or CEO of a company. There are always things to do, and you’re the one that makes it all happen.
But the truth is that taking time off and really letting work go, now and then, is important.
Taking time off can reduce stress and support better health. Studies show that going on vacation can even improve sleep. Taking time off recharges you, changes your scenery, and opens the door to fun and relaxation. In other words — the perfect spark to ignite your creativity, and re-energize your productivity.
Knowing all that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get away. Every good vacation begins with a commitment to yourself — that you are worthy of taking time for you. Whether it’s a getaway with family, friends, your partner, or even just going solo, vacations are a part of taking care of yourself.
Here are 5 critical steps for an energizing, relaxing, and enjoyable vacation.
Make a Plan
Whether you’re taking a weekend or 3 weeks off, plan well in advance. It’s easy to get caught up in work and not take the time to figure out what needs to happen when you’re gone. And then you end up doing a lot of work on your vacation, which pretty much defeats the purpose. If you want your vacation to be free and spontaneous, put a plan in place that will support that.
Ask yourself, “What can you postpone till you come back, and what will it take to keep the show running when you are gone?”
Get clear on what you want your vacation to be like. Decide that this vacation isn’t a working one, and take the steps to make sure you can let go — not only physically, but also mentally.
You might take your vacation at the least busy time, if that’s an option. The thing is to plan well in advance so that you can leave knowing everything is in place.
Collaborate and Delegate
Get others on your team to collaborate vacation time with you. Be willing to support them in taking time off and have them support you. This way everyone wins.
Delegate what you can. Here’s where cross training is beneficial. If there are daily tasks that can be done and/or monitored by someone else, farm it out. Let everyone know your expectations in full detail. You can even draw up a sheet of all that needs to happen and who’s assigned to what.
Let your clients and business associates know that you’ll be off the grid for X amount of time. Handle what you can with them before you go, and leave the rest for your return.
Decide Just How Much Work is OK During Vacation
Of course, it’s great if you can unplug completely. No calls, no emails, no distractions. Make it understood that you’ll only be contacted if there truly is an emergency of the “stuff is on fire” variety. Empower your team to take care of things while you’re gone.
That said, it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. The reality is that sometimes you need to check in and handle a few things. In that case set aside an hour a day or 3 times a week (whatever it is) to handle your email, make your calls, etc. Schedule it and when you’re complete, let it go.
Use technology to support you. Maybe you need a weekly report sent to you so that you can monitor the workflow. The key is to be clear on what you’ll do, and then stick to those parameters.
Commit to Your Vacation
Here’s the thing, if you go on vacation and all you do is think about work, you may as well be working.
Do something that is meaningful to you. It may be as simple as catching up on sleep, reading books, lying on the beach, or spending time with family and friends. Whatever it is, make it for you.
Remember, you’re worth it. Let work go, knowing that taking time for you is just as important as your work.
Be in the Now
At the Extraordinary Businesswoman, we talk a lot about the importance of being present and mindful at work and how much that can support productivity. Well, it’s equally relevant when you’re on vacation. If you can let go of the “doing” part of work and be present with where you are, you will enjoy your time more, relax more, and more fully engage with every experience that comes your way.
Work may come up, but it won’t be in the context of having to do something. You may find that you get ideas about something you’re working on. Some of the best ideas come forward when we’re relaxed and open, not even focusing on our work.
Vacations give us a break from our regular routines, but they’re often full of activities and travel. If you travel for your vacation (especially internationally), give yourself a day before getting back to it. Ease into your work. Sometimes, we feel that because we were away, we have to make up for it and work longer hours. With a little planning and letting yourself off the hook, it doesn’t need to be that way.
Be open to your experiences and enjoy whatever your vacation brings. Know that the work will be there when you return, and that it will all get done. When you get home, deal with what’s important, but ease back into work. In that way you will reap all the benefits of your vacation for a long time to come.