How to Take a Few Days Off as a Solopreneur
Many entrepreneurs cite a flexible schedule as an attractive benefit of starting a venture. However, many business owners — especially solopreneurs — quickly find that a business can feel like a job you can't take a vacation from (or even an afternoon break!), because when you're not working, your business grinds to a halt and money isn't coming in.
This mindset is a big problem because it can lead to burnout and all the psychological and physical downsides that come with it: increased stress and anxiety, lack of sleep, disengagement, weight gain and depression, among others.
It's imperative that entrepreneurs make time to step back from their businesses to relax, decompress, and reconnect with the purpose that drove them to start up in the first place.
Here are five ways to prep for (and actually enjoy!) time away from your business.
1. Plan ahead
So you're thinking about going on a vacation? Fantastic! To reduce anxiety around what you'll "miss" while you're out of the office, track the tasks that come across your desk during a similar time frame. For example, if you'll be gone for the third week in July, track every task that requires your attention in, say, the third week in June.
- Use your task review (and a careful investigation of your calendar) to create a Task Check List.
- Consider what can be completed ahead of time.
- What can be automated with tools like Zapier and Keap?
- What tasks can you schedule ahead of time with tools like Buffer and Edgar that allow you to schedule social posts?
- What can — gasp — be delayed?
- What can be delegated to a partner, virtual assistant, or AI tool?
- Check your list at least three times: Once when you make it, once a week before you're gone, and a third time two days before you leave to ensure you haven't forgot anything important.
2. Decide what "vacation" means to you
"Vacation" means something different to every entrepreneur. While some may want to completely disengage while they're away, others find that more stressful than, say, setting aside 30 minutes each morning to quickly check at emails, glance at dashboards, and review industry news. No one but you can make that decision.
- Before you go, spend a few minutes asking yourself how "checked out" you want to be.
- Create rules to accommodate your desired level of being checked out. For example, you may decide to temporary un-sync your work email from your phone so you have to physically open your laptop to check emails. (Or, you may opt not to take your laptop at all.)
3. Let people know you're going away
Letting people know you're going to be away ahead of time is a great way to reduce anxiety, even if you don't have anyone on your team filling in while you're gone. You'll likely find that no one will be nearly as worried about your absence as you are.
- A couple of weeks before you go away, let your most important customers or clients know you'll be out of pocket. Then, it won't be a surprise when they get your out of office.
- Don't send a mass email blast — instead, shoot off a customized version of the template below, or append a quick note to the bottom of emails. Adjust the tone/level of details of a note to fit your unique situation.
July will be here before we know it, and I wanted to personally reach out to let you know I'm going to be on vacation for the first ten days of the month. I've been promising my wife we'd go back to Italy before our girls graduate high school, and since Sara's senior year is starting this fall, it was time to make good on my word!
I'll be pausing responses to all emails and phone calls from June 30 through July 10. If an emergency comes up during that time, please text me at (808) 555-5555.
If you'd like to review anything with your account between now and then, please schedule time on my calendar [include link] so I can help ensure nothing falls through the cracks while I'm gone.
4. Set an out-of-office message
It's confusing to receive an out-of-office message from someone and then getting an email response 10 minutes later. Are you out of the office or not?
- Set up an out-of-office auto-response email and actually stick to it!
- Let people know how long you'll be gone
- Tell recipients if/how they can communicate with you in the interim
- Provide resources that can be helpful while you're away.
- Make the message personal but short, like the template below.
I'm in Italy with my family until July 10. I'll be responding to all emails and calls when I'm back.
If you need to reach me before then, please send me a text at (808) 555-5555. Otherwise, I'll get back to you in a few days with a review of Rome's top gelato joints.
If you're looking for more info about [business example], try checking out our FAQ page, blog, or Facebook page [add links].
Grazie for your patience!
5. Trust the process
Remember when you were a kid, and nothing that seemed scary was ever as frightening as you built it up to be in your head? Going on vacation as an entrepreneur is the same way! Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you've planned ahead and put great systems in place, and enjoy your vacation.
There will be plenty of time to answer emails when you're back in the office, refreshed and ready to take on the world.