Jennifer Gregory

Column: Limit work while on vacation

Guest columnistJune 30, 2014 

My family was at the beach, and I was sitting in the condo working on my laptop.

I meant to only check one email, but before I knew it hours had passed, and I never made it out the door.

I missed out on relaxation and family time only to complete a work task that probably wasn’t that important.

One of the main reasons I own my own business is for the flexibility of taking vacations when I want to, but when you are in charge of your own income it is hard to walk away – even for a day.

After spending yet another family vacation working more than relaxing, I decided to talk with a productivity expert to find out how entrepreneurs and small-business owners can actually take vacation.

Mike Collins, owner of The Perfect Workday, a productivity consulting company in the Triangle, says that many small-business owners struggle with either not taking vacation or working when they do take vacation.

“It’s really important for business owners to take a vacation that is relaxing and will recharge you,” Collins said. “But it’s definitely harder than it appears.”

Collins gives businesses owners these tips for managing their own vacations:

Ask yourself what type and length of vacation works best for you. Some owners find that more frequent three- to four- day breaks are easier to schedule, while others find that checking out for two or three weeks gives them the break from work they need.

There is no right answer. Each person needs to find what works best for them.

Think about what you worry about most during vacations. Before you leave, address your top concerns and make a plan. By being proactive, you will have less to worry about while you’re away.

Consider setting your email to an out-of-office message. While Collins recognizes that it takes courage to announce that you’re on vacation to everyone who emails you, he says it can be very effective for cutting down on distractions, both yours and people who are contacting you.

Designate an employee to be in charge. Ask an employee to assume a leadership role. This person should know your business and what will be happening with the company while you’re away.

Direct employees and clients to contact this person with any issues or opportunities while you are gone.

Be very specific with the employee about when they should contact you.

You don’t want a phone call every time someone can’t find the stapler.

Determine whether you will log into work and when. Before you pack the car or board a plane, decide whether you are going to occasionally log onto email or unplug completely.

If you decide to check in, set parameters such as 15 minutes in the morning and evening or once every other day. If you tell yourself you are not going to check in, don’t do it unless there’s an emergency.

Jennifer Gregory is a business writer who lives in Wake Forest. Find her online at jennifergregorywriter.com.

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