• St. Lucia

The Most Important Thing I Learned from Forcing Myself to Take a Vacation

By Noel Bagwell
For Executive Legal Professionals, PLLC

June 18, 2015

Why Take a Vacation?

This flowchart has been on my bulletin board for years. I use it to make all my decisions. Feel free to take and make it your own.

There are a lot of reasons you might need to take a vacation, even if you’re a small business owner whose presence and constant attention to your business is necessary for its health and success. The best reason, though, is this: You will enjoy it, and, even if it is not income-generating, it may be an obligation which cannot be outsourced (see the helpful decision-making flowchart on the right). No one can take your vacation for you. No one can attend an important family event in your place. So, sometimes, you have to go on vacation; you have to force yourself to do it. This recently happened to me, actually.

My sister-in-law and her new husband decided to get married in St. Lucia. That’s fantastic! It’s a romantic Caribbean island with fantastic views, beautiful villas, gorgeous beaches, and endless activities for tourists. The only problem? St. Lucia is 2,200+ miles away! How am I going to run my business from there, I worried.

It didn’t matter. I knew I would enjoy it, and it was a family obligation which could not be outsourced. I was going. I went. It was awesome!

You might find yourself in similar circumstances, or you might just be at the end of your rope. You might need a vacation to keep from burning out entirely. You might have a spouse and / or children; and they might need a break with you to reconnect as a family. Whatever your reason, people need leisure time; families need leisure time together. In short, you have an obligation to yourself, your family, and maybe even your business to take a break now-and-then, and go on vacation. So, when you decide to take that necessary vacation, keep in mind the following lessons I learned from my vacation to help you keep it together, away from the office.

Distance Grants Perspective

When you force yourself to step back from the day-to-day routine of your business, and you cannot micromanage every little detail of its operations, the distance you create enhances the need to prioritize tasks and projects. This is something you really should be doing, anyway. Entrepreneurs are often Type-A people who are ambitious and have a predilection for holding the reins. It can be hard for them to give up control and delegate tasks. When you cannot do it yourself, you must delegate, delay, or deny activities.

Sometimes, you need distance from your business to help you put in perspective what is really necessary about what your business is doing. When you are out of the office, about what are you most concerned? Are you managing a new employee or trying to sign an important new client? (I was dealing with both of those things when I took my recent vacation.)

Leveraging the Bird’s Eye View

While you’re away from the office, how are you going to handle the management of people and processes? Does your business have effective, efficient policies, procedures, and programs in place to streamline operations in the event of your absence? How automated is your business? Who can you trust?

It is important to ask yourself these questions. Remember, too, you’re not leaving forever. In my case, it was just one week. Still, that seems like an eternity in the fast-paced business world.

Consider hiring a temporary

[remote or virtual] assistant to help you with taking calls and messages, dealing with email, and other mundane tasks (by the way, you should consider a written contract for employment for this worker). Your [remote or virtual] assistant can help keep you connected and relay messages back-and-forth between you, your employees, and your clients or customers. Have a crisis plan in place, and give your assistant instructions about what to do and say in the event of an emergency. Also, the Internet is great, but don’t rely on it too much. Even in a well-traveled locale, like St. Lucia, the Internet is often unreliable, not to mention unsecure and often expensive.

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Have a plan, hire a person (temporarily), prioritize, and enjoy your vacation. Oh, and don’t forget to pack sunscreen!

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