8 great ways to take time off from your small business (even when you are too busy to take time off)

beach scene

The beach is calling your name; use these tips to make sure you get there.

Summer is here. This may be the time of year when it is most apparent that one of the privileges of being a business owner (you manage your own time!) is also one of its biggest curses.

You are busy, maybe invaluable. You would like to take a few hours off here and there, and also a nice vacation – heck, maybe even a sabbatical – but instead you’re putting in extra hours every week.

Hey, the sun is shining. Life is short.

Perhaps you can’t take that sabbatical just now, but these tips can help you take a break now and then:

1. Get the right technology. Let’s say that you really feel you can’t be out of touch, and that your expertise might be needed at any moment. Sometimes, a few tweaks or upgrades to your digital technology (a laptop you can stand to use, data services on a tablet, voicemail that forwards from your office to your email or cell, a free Google Drive account so you can access your important files from anywhere, a cloud-based contact management system, etc.) can combine to create the security blanket that lets you get out of town, or just to the pool for the afternoon, allowing you to check in every so often with ease, or to handle urgent needs.

2. Shift your schedule. What if you came into the office an hour early and left and hour early to go for that run? Or vice versa. It’s a guilt-free way to take advantage of your favorite times of day.

3. Make an appointment with yourself. Just as you block off meetings or other work assignments, put a placeholder in the calendar to have lunch with a friend, go to an exercise class or head home to play in the garden. Then keep that appointment if at all possible. It’s probably at least as important as the other ones in your day.

4. Delegate, for heaven’s sake! Do you have employees? Cross train them to handle as many day-to-day tasks as possible, so you can escape now and then. You are close to indispensable for some responsibilities, but your staff can easily take on many others when needed.

5. Feeling bad taking time off when the staff is working? Share the wealth. At van Schouwen Associates, we have an optional Summer Hours program, which lets employees reduce their hours during summer months, taking half a day or a full day off each week in addition to regular vacation time. The Summer Hours program cuts pay during that period for the employees who elect it – but typically, over half of our staff chooses to participate each summer! Or maybe you close the doors at 1 pm every Friday in July and August. Either way, your staff will appreciate some time off, too.

6. Work faster and smarter, and when you are done, get outside and soak up the sun. Who says you have to be there eight hours every single day? Sometimes the incentive of some free time is enough to make you more effective in fewer hours.

7. Go with the flow. Having a slow day with no particular reason to be where you are? Your daycation may be calling you.

8. Plan a real vacation and encourage staff to do the same. I confess, I can’t remember a time when I’ve taken more than a week off at once. I’m simply more comfortable returning after five days away than, say, ten. But I make sure to plan to take those full weeks. I let customers know whom to call, and (yes) I keep lightly in touch with the office while I am away.

And then I repeat the process, so that I take at least a couple of weeks off each summer. I encourage everyone in the office to take their vacations as well.

So really, do it. Take some time off this summer… and perhaps this fall and winter too. If you plan it well, you will feel better, and your company will likely benefit from a more relaxed and happier you.


Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, as well as its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. 

1 comment

  1. My 2 cents: Work on cloud.

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