When solopreneurs want to take a vacation, it's not as simple as giving a boss notice and putting up an away message.
Just ask renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister — every seven years, he shuts down his studio and takes a yearlong sabbatical. Guess what? It fuels brilliant creative work.
Not many– of us can take a year off, but let’s start with a week.
Pick an Ideal Time
Unless you run a seasonal business that booms in summer, most of your clients and customers probably slow down during the summer. It’s an ideal time to give yourself a break and adventure beyond the office.
Considering these different aspects of your professional and personal life can help you to map out just how much you can afford, both with regards to time and money, as well as the best week for you to hit the road.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Last minute vacations are tricky for solopreneurs. Instead of trying to wing it, plan well in advance. Not only do long term plans allow you to map out your work, they offer you better deals. Spread the work from your week away out over the month or two leading up to your trip, rather than trying to fit it in right before you go. This approach ensures that your vacation sparks relaxation rather than pre-trip panics.
Label everything you need to do in advance with a certain color in your project management software or calendar. Prioritize these tasks above your daily and weekly responsibilities, or you may never to get to them. Ensuring that you take care of long-term work is just as (or more important) as completing your moment-to-moment tasks.
Let Everyone Know in Advance
Give your clients and customer a wide berth. Let them know at least a month in advance that you will be closing up for a week to take a much needed vacation. Encourage them to get in touch about any needs they may have in advance. Giving notice also increases accountability — if a client calls when you’re away in a panic, you won’t feel as compelled to step back into work mode.
As always, leave clear away messages on your website, email and phone message with the dates and times you are expected to be away, as well as any directions they may need. If you own a brick-and-mortar location, create a physical sign for your door.
Still worried about stepping away? Think about if there is another solopreneur in the same field that you would be willing to collaborate with while you’re away. Perhaps, you could ask them to cover you during any work emergencies and repay the favor while they are on vacation.
Give Yourself an Extra Day
Finish all of your work two workdays before you leave on vacation. Giving yourself extra time to prepare takes discipline, but it will leave you feeling much more prepared for your sojourn in paradise. Use that extra workday as a buffer to tie up missing pieces and get to last-minute tasks that slipped through your to-do list.
Take part of this time to clean out your desk, your desktop and organize any files. Coming home from vacation to a barrage of emails is hard enough without walking into a mess. Do whatever you can to make sure you re-enter work with a clean slate.
Create Strong Boundaries
If you do need to work while you’re away, set strong boundaries for yourself. Let your family and friends know exactly how much time you intend to work, when you would like to do it, and how it will affect your plans.
Set specific periods of time aside — I found that first thing in the morning works best. Get up your vacation buddies and knock out your work without distraction. No matter what, make sure that your vacation still feels like one. Follow the 80/20 rule, with at least 80% percent of your time allocated toward complete relaxation.
Take the Time to Reflect
Vacations are good for your brain and great for your business. Leisure allows your creative juices to simmer on low and leads to a sharpened focus and innovative ideas. Do you have any work issues you just can’t seem to solve? If you let them fall into the rearview mirror while you’re away, chances are a solution may find you. Even if you’re going on an active vacation to explore a new city or on partake in an outdoors adventure, take time to reflect and mull. A fresh perspective can do wonders for your business.
One Final Thought
The United States is one of the most stressed, tired and overworked countries in the world — giving yourself a break isn't just a treat, it’s a necessity. By strategizing well in advance, you can reap the benefits of being your own boss. Now, go take that vacation!
What steps have you taken to prepare for a summer vacation?