Christmas is coming! That means for most of us we will try and sneak in some down time. But for many business owners, getting downtime is really hard, particularly if you are in business for yourself without a large staff.
I recently took a break to the UK for my nieces wedding. I told my clients, pared my to do down to the bare minimum during my time away but I still struggled to actually get to the work between the time difference etc. It was one of the most stressful holidays I’ve ever had and it was no break for me at all.
So based on my mistakes and my hopeless optimism, I decided that I would look for solutions to how to schedule a break when you are in business for yourself.
- Put an out of office on your inbox and let people know you are on a break and not available.
- If you have client based business, then let them know you will be away and what you have done on their account to make sure things won’t be let go in your absence. For example, I run social media for a few clients and I prescheduled content so that there was no disruption to their account.
- I should also have brought some some other activities forward to get ahead and make sure they didn't crop up as issues while I was away. Lesson learnt, particularly as it would have made the return much less of a jolt with pressing actions needed from the moment I stepped off the plane.
- When you are in your own business, taking a break often means no more new business development. However, if you have things humming along with regular enquiries coming through, and no one else can take care of them, then write an email auto responder for them that:
a) explains your are on holidays for x days and
b) prepare a flyer with additional information that you can also provide while they wait for your response
c) be really clear on when you will respond to them.
- Get ahead of your social media / publishing and preschedule everything. There are lots of tools that can used to make this happen automagically while you are away. You might be on holidays but you don’t want to completely shut down and lose what ground you’ve gained.
- Make use of my batching process from last week. My batching all up takes me 7 hours for 4 weeks of content.
- If you have a business where there are things that just can’t wait till you get back, then put in place an escalation process for urgent matters that can’t wait. Make sure you articulate or know what constitutes an urgent matter. You don’t want to be deciding this on your break. There are two ways to tackle this:
a. Ask for very urgent matters to be emailed to you with “Urgent – can’t wait till your return” in the subject line, advising you will check in once a day for anything that needs attention immediately. Then schedule just 10 minutes per day on your break to do a scan for any of these emails.
b. Ask for very urgent matters to complete a form (via SurveyMonkey for free) to provide you with as much detail as possible on the issue. Then have the response go to a dedicated ‘problems only’ inbox which you check once a day. This keeps you out of your everyday inbox so you don’t accidentally get sucked into the non-urgent stuff.
- Quarantine any time ‘on’ for your business to a finite time – no more than 30 minutes or say two hours in a mid week checkin. Schedule it and stick to it so you are not losing your ‘down’ time.
- Make a list of all of the things that happen on a routine basis in your business and work out if you can possibly do them ahead of time. Then schedule time before your break to get them done.
- While you may not have staff usually, you might consider a VA for a short term contract that can operate to set of agreed steps and processes, in particular in relation to taking phone calls, emails or orders.
- If you are getting someone to step in or up, then make sure you make really detailed notes on what needs to happen and what the common problems are that you come across.
- Know that down time is very important for your health – both mental and physical and increases productivity.