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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Taking Time Off


It's that time of year when I exhale a teeny tiny bit and I start to think about my plans for next year. In specific, I start to think about my vacations for next year. For the first 7 years of my business, I didn't take any vacation time other than the one or two days which were public holidays.  Seems a bit silly when I think about it now, but I really thought that if I took time off, clients would think I was unreliable or I'd lose out on orders I desperately needed.

I not only failed to take time off, I failed to realise that working almost every day of the year was the quickest way to buy myself a one way ticket to Burnout Town. I didn't understand that clients DO know that I'm human, and that as long as I planned accordingly, the loss of orders for a week would make little or no difference to my business failing or succeeding. Now, at the end of each year I open my calendar and I schedule in at least two week-long vacations. The first is usually from 30 December - 5 January, and the second is somewhere in the middle of winter (which in Australia is in July) when business is going to be quiet anyway.


I allocate at least one of those weeks off to staying home and doing a whole lot of not much. I book myself a "staycation" in my own house and I do stuff like sleep in... every. single. day. I slop around in my yoga pants and t-shirt for the whole day if I want to. I bake a lot of chocolate chip cookies and eat them for breakfast. I finally get a manicure. Sometimes I even do a bunch of grown up errands like going to the dentist, cleaning out my closet and re-oganising the kids toys. I just give myself a week to have a life without having the pressure of being a business owner as well. It's quite possibly the best week of my year. The other week of vacation time, I plan a 'proper' vacation involving suitcases and sunscreen.

When you're in a small business, you can so easily forget to take a breather from it - you just work work work work like a crazed loon until at one point, you fall over in a heap from exhaustion. We're so busy worrying about or planning for the next order that we totally forget about time off  (sidenote: like those people who "forget" to eat. That's not actually possible for me. Seriously, how do they do that?) I used to get desperate for time off, so I'd look ahead in my cake planner and think, "Ohhhhh, in 3 weeks there are no cakes booked in, I'll take some time off then," but before you knew it that weekend had orders, too... and buh-bye, vacation time. If however I put those couple of weeks of time off into my planner well in advance AND I considered them as non-negotiables, I was much more likely to actually take that time off when it came up. Plus, it became something I really looked forward to.


Bonus to planning this time off a year ahead is that you've got plenty of time to warn your clients about the business closing or plan your staffing accordingly to cover it for you. By putting it into your diary NOW, you really have no good excuse not to take that holiday or staycation.

So - today - right now in fact - open your phone planner or your diary or whatever it is you use, and block out two week-long vacations. Trust me when I say it's good for you and it's good for business.

Burnout Town is NOT a nice place for a vacation. I should know. I've been there.



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