Work Time Off Could Be Productive

Running your own business and being your own boss has its upsides.  You answer to no one; you control your own destiny.  Will you consider taking a break a downside?  Will your business take a hit when you are away on vacation?  James, Sutton, a psychologist from Texas, claims that “some of my best ideas and marketing approaches came when my mind was refreshed and ‘idle’”.

Taking a break from the business a few days a year makes good sense.  There are risks when leaving the business but even with you in the business, the risks are still there.  It is advisable to shut your mind out of the business and do something entirely different now and then.

Take it a step at a time.  If you usually take breaks one day a week, make it two the next time and assess which areas of the business “suffered”.  Address this area.  Do you need to train a member of your staff to be “you” for those days when you will be absent?  As a wise entrepreneur, you have to prepare the business for such eventualities when you are called away from the business – for example when you are sick and cannot report to work, when there is an emergency you need to attend to, or when you want to take a short vacation.

Plan ahead for your vacations – a few months in advance – to give notice to your clients or customers and to prepare your staff.  Assign additional tasks to your staff to compensate for your absence.  You can look for a temporary replacement to take over your tasks – one from among your staff or a reliable friend or relative.

If you cannot stay away for weeks, you can take more frequent but shorter breaks.  Or, you can schedule your breaks during the less busy periods of your business.

The following CNN Money article offers some pointers on how to take these needed breaks – a workhorse like you may need to recharge so you can return to work with restored enthusiasm and fresh ideas.

There are many upsides to calling yourself boss. The downside? Every year, around the holidays, entrepreneurs learn (and relearn, as the case may be) that it’s tough to take even a week or two off, let alone a longer absence, like a maternity leave or sabbatical.

It’s tempting to just keep grinding away. But that’s counter-productive. Sutton claims that “some of my best ideas and marketing approaches came when my mind was refreshed and ‘idle,’” and many other free agents report the same thing. Here are a few strategies for taking time off from business owners who’ve done it:

Plan ahead. Way ahead.
Figure out your 2012 travel plans by the end of 2011. Knowing your vacation times at least a few months in advance lets you build that lack of availability into your client proposals and plan your pipeline accordingly. Says Tim Parkin, president of Parkin Web Development in Orlando, Florida, “last minute trips make it difficult to adequately prepare and give notice to your clients. It’s unfair to both parties.”

Knowing your schedule ahead of time also lets you plan for some long days before and after, and arrange employee schedules with that in mind. Parkin notes that clients who learn of your vacation plans “might have immediate requests which is why more notice is better.”

Get help.
Meghan Ely, owner of OFD Consulting, a Virginia-based wedding marketing firm, took an eight-day trip to Ireland last September with her husband. “Prior to leaving, I trained one of my staff members essentially how to ‘be me,’” she says, answering emails, taking the first few steps with prospects and the like.

Don’t have staff? Doctors cover each other’s shifts for vacations, and if you have a colleague you admire and trust, you could try referring work over there during your time off — particularly if you plan to take a longer leave. You could also ask a trusted friend or family member to check your email and voice mail and call your hotel if anything disastrous happens.

Consider shorter, more frequent breaks …

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