If you ever got to look at my calendar, you would see I have two. The first contains all the booked meetings/appointments. The other contains my ideal week. 

If I only had the booking calendar open, you wouldn’t understand how I manage my time. If you saw the ideal week calendar, you would get a good image of how I manage my week. Monday’s are admin mornings/coffee date afternoons. Tuesdays/Thursdays are networking and client days. Wednesdays are for marketing and content development. Friday is buffer and personal development day. 

This is a guideline, and depending on my commitments and the goals I’m trying to achieve, this can change.  

However, what happens when I take time away from my business? 

I have a vacation planned for October. Ten days of relaxing and exploring a place I’ve never been. How do I manage that? Do I still follow my ideal week?   No. Depending on why I’m taking time away from my business will depend on how my week will look, but I don’t follow my regular ideal week. 

But to take that time away does mean some advanced planning and modifications to my average ideal week leading up to the vacation.  

Today, I will share my process for getting ready to take time away. 

Why take time away from your business?

You love what you do, right? So why do you need to take time away from what you love? Especially if taking that time feels overwhelming and stressful. 

Taking time away can be the best thing you can do for yourself and your business. It may also be necessary. 

It could be that a loved one needs you for a short period, or maybe you need recovery time for your health.   Planning for this time away may be stressful beforehand, but it will help when your focus is elsewhere.  

You may be taking time away to attend a conference or training. This will help you grow, give you new ideas, network, and more. This reason for taking time away is both good for you and your business.

You may also be taking time off to recharge. We are human, after all. We all need a break. When you return from your break/vacation, you will be refreshed with more energy and a fresh perspective for your business. 

Regardless of the reason, you don’t want to be working or stressing about everything when you are away. This is where the following strategies come in. 

The best part is that these strategies will help you identify what is essential/impactful to your business and what is not. It might help you eliminate some waste in your day-to-day business. 

Get clear about what needs to be done. 

‍The first step is to get clear about what needs to be done.  

  • This starts by knowing what you do on a weekly/monthly basis. If you don’t know, do a time audit for a week or two. Find out all the things you are doing in your business. 
  • From the list of things you do make a couple of lists from those activities.
    • What activities can wait or be put on hold while on vacation
    • What ones can you do ahead? 
    • Which ones can be delegated or outsourced
    • Which ones can be deleted permanently? (It’s always good to ask and then delete them from your list immediately.) 
    • Which ones have to be done by you while you are away?      
  • Hopefully, you have procedure documents for all your tasks. However, if you don’t, ensure you have them for the tasks you delegate or outsource. (You can plan to complete the others when you are back).  ‍

With your lists, you are ready for the next step: plan ahead.  ‍

Plan ahead 

I find it easier to plan based on the lists I created.  

  • Activities that can wait, be put on hold, or rescheduled: I work on them first because they are easy. These might be appointments you need to move or cancel. They could be tasks that you can schedule when you are back. Also, consider who needs to know you will be away and what information they might need while you are. Make the adjustments, prepare any information, and get them off your list. For example, I will have to reschedule consulting clients and make a plan with my coaching clients.  
  • Activities that can be done ahead:  I make a list and schedule time to complete them in advance. For example, I will write extra blogs and have them ready to post. My social media will be done in advance. Bills will be pre-paid, so nothing comes due while I’m away. As a caregiver, I ensured extra meals and the medicine was ready. I would schedule these extra tasks to ensure they got done before I was away.   What can you do to get things done ahead of time?
    • When doing this step, look for ways you can repurpose content. For example, when planning time away and needing extra content, I usually go back to my posts that are a couple of years old and re-write them for use while I’m gone. This way, I’m not starting from scratch making the process faster.  
  • Activities that can be delegated or outsourced:  Get the person who will be helping you involved before your time away to alleviate the burden on you while you are working ahead and to allow them to do the work while you are around for questions and guidance. It will help you feel more confident while you are away.  
  • Activities you must do while you are away: I am the only facilitator for the mastermind groups at this time in my business. Even when away, I still run them. I may also work with a couple of coaching clients while away. For these, I make sure I plan to take what I need and plan for them while away.  

In addition to the above, I do a couple of other things to make my life easier both before and during my trip. The first is to create and turn on my out-of-office email right away. I do this, so It’s one less thing I need to do in the few days before leaving. 

I also ensure the person I am traveling with knows what I will still have to do/be responsible for while I’m away. If they are also a business owner, they get it. But if they are not, advanced notice can go a long way to ensure things go smoothly. 

Finally, remember, as much as we plan, life happens. So, be ready to change plans as needed.  

Plan for your office away from the office.

The last thing I want while away is to realize I forgot something. This is why preparing/planning for office away from the office is important.  

As I work through my lists, I keep track of the things I will need while I’m. If I can, I prepare/pack them ahead of time. Consider

  • What tools you will need: Laptop/charger, cell phone/charger, etc. 
  • What information you or others may need:  Flight and travel information, health insurance, contact numbers, etc. My husband recently traveled to a remote part of Ontario. Internet and cell service were limited. He purchased a satellite communicator that accepts short messages. He gave me and a business partner the contact information to be used in an emergency. Having a designated person for this type of communication may be helpful. 
  • What files you need: Ensure you can access them if they are electronic. Can they be so you don’t have to carry them if they are not electronic? Consider how you will use them. Items you might be able to do in small pockets of time, keep them readily available, while others might be packed until needed. I remember going on vacation, and when I returned, I had a week-long course to attend. The course had a lot of prerequisite work beforehand. I had to pack audio files and textbooks for the trip. Each morning, I spend a couple of hours consuming the material on the deck of the lovely room.  

Give yourself permission to take the time you need

This step is so important but one that we tend to miss.  

When you go away, for whatever reason, you must give yourself permission to do things differently. Give yourself permission to: 

  • Slow down
  • To take a break and rest
  • To ask for help
  • To focus on yourself
  • Whatever else you need to give yourself permission for

You may feel guilt until you give yourself permission to do things you don’t normally do. This permission piece can be used in many different ways. 

For example, when I have some free time on the weekend, I struggle to relax. I often think of the other things I could be doing. I could review content, prepare social media posts, or restock wood. But then, I take a deep breath, check in with what I need, and often permit myself to take a break. To enjoy the sun and go for a swim. 

This is the exact process I will be kicking off next week as I plan and prepare for my getaway about a month from now.

I would love to know what you do when you take time from your business. What will you adopt going forward if you didn’t have a process?    

Sometimes when we take a break, we may find that solutions then present themselves.

Catherine Pulsifer

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