Anne Morrow Lindbergh observed that, for the most part, mothers and housewives were the “great vacationless class” because they had little time off. I would add the self-employed to her list.
If you’re self-employed as I am, it’s often difficult to see your way to a holiday. You’re either too busy or too broke or both. I haven’t had a vacation for a long time. So I decided that it was time to hang up my Gone Fishin’ sign and take a vacation in August. Nothing fancy. Two weeks in and around my hometown of Victoria.
Here are a few tips that you might find useful if you’re still struggling with the notion of taking a vacation.
- Silence the “Gremlins”. As soon as I think or say “vacation”, my inner critics start whispering. That’s irresponsible. People depend on you. Your business will fail. You’ll lose clients ! Gremlins want to keep the status quo. You need to recognize these voices for what they are and politely tell them to “Get lost”. If you don’t, you’ll end up chained to your desk.
- Plan ahead and set firm dates. Setting dates forces you to make a commitment. I’m closing up the office on August 20th and returning two weeks later on September 4th. It’s critical to allow yourself several weeks lead time. The more the better. This allows you to wrap up projects or stages of a project. Don’t cram everything into the final week before your vacation. You’ll end up exhausted and won’t enjoy your time off. Make sure that you don’t plan any project work the week you return. This will allow you to settle in and catch up on e-mails and other administrative matters.
- Inform your current clients. This post is a way of letting all of my loyal readers know that I’m not going to be writing any new material for the two weeks I’m on vacation. I’ll still be posting three times a week but these will be articles from my archives. Don’t try to pretend that you’re still at your desk. Letting clients know of your vacation avoids the embarrassment of their trying to reach you and not getting a reply for a couple of weeks. Trust that your clients understand that you’re human and like everyone else need some free time.
- Set up an e-mail auto-responder. Even though I’m having a “staycation”, I’ll resist the temptation to peak at my e-mails. I’m going to leave an auto-responder message that goes something like, “Thank you for contacting me. I’m currently away from my desk and unavailable from August 21st until September 5th. I’ll answer your e-mail on my return. If this is an emergency, please call 250-514-****.”
- Leave a vacation voice-message on your answering service. Even if you’re staying close to home on your vacation, you don’t want the interruption of business calls. That’s why I’ll be adding a telephone message that says something like, “Thanks for calling. I’m away from my desk until September 5th. Please leave a message and I’ll be happy to return your call when I’m back. If this is an emergency, please call 250-514-****.” A word of caution. It’s advisable in both your e-mail and telephone messages not to give the impression that you’ve left your home or office vacant. This information could fall into the wrong hands and lead to a robbery.
- Relax. It sounds obvious. But if you’re like me, you probably have what I’d call the “Manager of the Universe” syndrome. It goes, “The world will stop spinning on its axis if I’m not at my desk 24/7.” Well I know and you know that’s ridiculous. It’s quite amazing how the world keeps turning even when we’re not involved. So, I’m giving myself permission not to worry and just to relax.
Photo by The Hamster Factor
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