Winter has always felt like my “grind time,” where I just hunker down and tend to work longer days–both at night and on weekends–because, truthfully, I want to. There is something about the cold, snowy weather here in Massachusetts that totally puts me in the working mood and makes me feel productive.
Summer, on the other hand, has always been a time that I want to enjoy. The warm weather only lasts so long here, and I want to take advantage of it while I can! When I first started my business, however, I was rarely taking days off and was working nonstop throughout my favorite season, despite wanting to soak up the summer sun and head to the beach. That’s because I felt this massive guilt around wanting to pause work for the day…
My clients need me. I can’t afford to not be working for a day. Taking time off will only push me back.
Those are just some of the thoughts that I had. And to be honest, I had those limiting beliefs for quite some time. It wasn’t until just last summer, 2.5 years into owning my business, when I finally allowed myself to take time off and realized the importance of doing so. And that’s because I realized that one of the reasons why we start a business is to be able to determine our own schedule–so how was that benefitting me if that’s what I was not doing? I decided to make a change.
I had my first week-long, work-free vacation last summer in Maine, where I didn’t even bring my laptop or work at all (although I actually couldn’t work even if I wanted to because of the service and lack of WiFi!).
Yet what I didn’t even realize until the trip started was how badly I needed a break. Being able to leave my phone in the house all day long and not feeling a need to use it was incredible… and that was what really helped me to understand that taking time to unwind as a business owner is crucial for both your personal and professional performance.
But, as I’m sure you know, taking time off as an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s totally possible, but there are a few extra steps that should be taken to ensure all of your Is have been dotted and your Ts have been crossed before unplugging. And that’s exactly why I’m going to share with you how I was able to not only take a week off for that vacation but also take every Friday off to go to the beach.
Delegate to Trusted Team Members
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more… delegation is key. If I didn’t have an assistant, I truthfully don’t think I would have gone on that vacation last year because it just wouldn’t be possible to vacation and ensure work is done when I’m the only one who could work. But with my assistant, she was able to monitor emails from clients, handle social media posting and engagement, fix small issues, and more all while I was gone.
And let me tell you, that was a huge relief. Do you know how amazing it felt to not feel like I was needed all the time? And to know that it was OK to not open my email? And to be able to spend my time doing NOTHING? Incredible.
The same thing happens when I take Fridays off to go to the beach–she ensures that everything that needs to get done that day is squared away and responds to any urgent messages for me. She’s the reason why I can hop out of the office for the day with peace of mind because I know that things are getting done and I don’t need to be there to do them all.
If you don’t have someone like this already, I highly encourage you to start searching for this person! My life was forever changed once I started to grow my team because I finally felt like everything didn’t need to fall on me all the time and I could take a step back.
Get Ahead on Tasks
The two weeks leading up to my vacation were spent doing a ton of work in advance so that the work I would’ve needed to do during that week would’ve already been complete. This meant that those two weeks were full of super early mornings and very late nights to make sure dozens of projects were finished in time, which wasn’t exactly ideal, but it was worth it in my book because I knew it’s what would make it possible for taking time off to be a breeze.
I’m very lucky that the majority of the work for my marketing firm can be done in advance, which is why I was able to adjust my schedule and overload my work days that way. If you’re in an industry where you can do something similar, map out a timeline that will help you to identify what you need to get done and when.
Communicate This With Your Clients
It’s common courtesy to give your clients a heads up about being out of office. I gave my clients a few weeks’ notice and shared with them that I would be completing their projects and sending them for review early to ensure everything was taken care of before I left. Most, if not all, of my clients had actually told me that I deserved the time off and that they hoped I enjoyed myself–and that right there proves how much time and effort was put into building a business that was full of clients who valued and appreciated me.
Going along with this, I signed a few new clients at the time but actually pushed their start date to be after I got back. I knew I could’ve laid the foundation of their work before I left, but truthfully, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with more work when I was trying to cut down to less work, and I didn’t want my mind to start thinking about these projects while I was gone. It was so much easier to delay things a little bit until I was fully back in working mode, which wasn’t a big deal.
Take Time Off
In order to take time off, you actually have to take the time off. You may be wondering what exactly I mean by that–and what I mean is, you can’t truly take time off from work if you’re “just responding to one quick email” or “just checking in on one small project” or “just getting something tiny done with a few spare minutes.” You need to actually devote yourself to being fully present during your time off and pushing all thoughts of work out of your head.
Taking time off isn’t the easiest thing to get used to, especially when you’re young and already feeling strapped for time in your business, but it’s necessary. Truthfully, it’s something that I still struggle with, but it’s becoming something that I feel more comfortable with. And you can, too!
Remember, the work will always be there… but your life, fun moments, and happy memories won’t.