When was the last time you put your phone down, sat back, and said, "I work too hard, I deserve a break?"
If your work life is anything like the nearly half of business owners surveyed by ProjectTimeOff, that thought does not cross your mind. Let's face facts: the smartphone has put our office in our pocket and our vacation time out the window.
The *ding* of new emails is a marching tune that can trap many business owners. Ever think you heard your cell phone or mistakenly felt it vibrate in your pocket? Our brains have become so conditioned to working that, "Phantom Vibration Syndrome" is a real medical phenomenon.
It's safe to say that business owners need a break.
But, what about the consequences? You can't decide you're just tired of driving and then slam on the breaks. The 45 unread emails, eight text messages, and three voicemails are not going away, so how can you disconnect when your business is on the line? It's a fair question.
Here are some tips:
Trust your team. As they say, it’s just as bad to trust nobody as it is to trust everybody. Your business is not just a collection of contracts, spreadsheets, and orders to fill, but also the people you hire to do these things. Set clear expectations and ensure that your team knows their responsibilities. Even more importantly, define what an “emergency” is, so your employees don’t need to define it for you. A paper jam is much different than an angry customer.
Start small. Friday afternoons are wonderful—enjoy them more. If the thought of disconnecting for a week seems like a bridge too far, start with just a few hours. This way your employees have a trial run to manage the day on their own, and your confidence in your team can grow. You may find that a little break is all you need.
Be realistic about your break. Nothing is worse than "trying" to enjoy something, so look at your phone if you need to! There's no rule about the number of emails you are allowed to send on your day off. If you can't relax without knowing that your business isn't burning down, that's okay. There's a reason why we double-check to see if the front door is locked before going to bed. These are all mental cues that allow us to take a step back.
Communicate. There’s nothing worse than silence, especially to a client or customer. If they don’t know where you are, or why only your team is communicating, they’ll start to wonder. The best way to ease concerns and stop problems before they arise is to let your customers know when you’ll be out and who they can contact in the meantime. Something so simple as setting an out-of-office reply on your email can go a long way.
Remember, vacations are all about perspective – so forget structure, rules, deadlines, and what you think you “should” be doing on your break. This is a time to look in the mirror. Are those 45 unread emails really that pressing? What actually needs your attention right now? In most cases, trusting your team and letting your business run on autopilot for a couple days will finally give you that break you deserve.