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Jun 13, 201911:39 AMThe Gray Area

with Donna Gray

Business leaders shouldn’t neglect a summer vacation

Vacations and downtime are a must for maintaining a good work-life balance. Many folks who are in charge can’t imagine leaving work behind, even for a short respite. According to small business lender OnDeck, relatively few of small business owners or managers opt to take badly needed time away from their daily grind.

Constantly refusing to take time off is an unhealthy practice and can be counterproductive to the business or organization. Of course, there are challenges to taking time off and unplugging from work responsibilities, but taking the opportunity to rest, relax, and recharge provides a number of benefits both to the person and to the organization. Stepping away from work provides stress relief that allows us to be more energized and effective when we return to the job.

At a recent business breakfast, some tablemates were discussing their need to “get away from it all” after a busy winter and spring work schedule. One of our group mentioned that she kept a handle on her stress level by jetting away to different parts of the country whenever she felt that feeling of burnout creeping up. She physically left town specifically so she couldn’t be “called in to work” from an at-home vacation. However, another person worried about all the things that could happen if he left town, so, especially during his busy season, he always felt up to his ears in stress.

I decided to ask my business coach friends for advice on how to let go wisely. Both experts said that a business isn’t really successful if the owners or managers can’t take a vacation, or at least a day off, without everything falling apart. They had some suggestions, especially for small business owners and managers, to help with breaking away, disengaging, and enjoying time off:

  • Decide on team member(s) to run things. Delegate tasks and give others the authority to manage whatever is needed while you’re away from the business. Be clear on what is expected of them, and provide a list of all the important information and procedures they will need to manage.
  • Plan the time away during a slow season so you can feel more at ease about leaving.
  • “In case of emergency,” define what is a real emergency. Be clear about what you should be contacted about.
  • Decide how “connected” you want to be. Will you call in once a day? Do you want to be available by phone, email, or text?
  • Don’t manage from afar. Trying to micromanage from another place undermines the people you have left in charge.
  • Let your personal customers know that you will be away for a much-needed vacation. They will completely understand.
  • Do a trial run by taking a whole day away without calling or stopping in to see what’s going on.

According to a survey by American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, two out of three entrepreneurs worry about everything from missed business to team members underperforming while they are away from their business.

My business coach friends maintain that when you take time away, you will come back refreshed, full of new ideas, and with a clear mind, all ready to tackle whatever comes down the pike, until the next opportunity to get away. They both suggest that vacationing becomes easier after the first time away.

Here’s to a great summer with lots of get-away opportunities for all!

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