If you’re like me, there are some months you feel like your home is just another stop on a never-ending business trip.
But I’m a big believer in time off. And that means real time off, not the my-Blackberry-is-attached-to-my-hip-while-I-get-a-massage kind of time off. I’m talking true relaxation, and experiencing life without being tethered to some piece of technology.
In fact, taking a vacation is good for you, your family and your business. Rest and change of scenery can only help bring fresh perspectives to your business and life. According to a 2005 study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal, women who take vacations frequently are less likely to become tense, depressed or tired and are more satisfied with their marriages. “Vacations provide a break from everyday stressors,” says Cathy McCarty, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator. “They allow us time away from work or home and help us release built-up tension.”
Unfortunately, having worked with thousands of women entrepreneurs over the past decade, I know this is a luxury most business owners rarely allow themselves. But even if your travel is just work-related, there are ways to take some time to enjoy where you are and recharge. There are ways to truly disengage—even briefly—and also keep up with your business.
Make it a priority to get a sense of where you are. Even if it’s just one hour to do one thing, find something that’s unique to the city you are in and explore it. At a recent conference in Las Vegas I discovered the wave pool at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. It may not be the biggest attraction in town, but for the limited time I had there and the schedule I was on, it allowed me to truly relax and enjoy myself—in a Blackberry-free zone.
Decide who’s in charge while you’re away. My mantra has long been, “Delegate, delegate, delegate,” and no time is this more important than when you’re away from the office. Assign one trusted employee as your point person, who will make decisions in your absence and with whom you will stay in close contact.
Limit how often you will look at e-mails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If it were up to me, I would not go online the entire time I’m away, but I know that can be next to impossible. To compromise, I would limit my online and telephone time to, say, every 48 hours. But make sure the conversations you do have don’t last for hours, and make sure they aren’t downers. The whole goal is to relax!
If you do take time off—even an extra day in a cool city—let people know! There’s no crime in taking some time to yourself. You are on vacation. The world should know it. Use the auto-respond feature on your e-mail. That way others won’t feel neglected when you don’t respond on time.
Take your vacation when others take theirs. There is a reason we have sanctioned holidays like Memorial Day, July 4th, Christmas and New Year's: so that more people will be off work during the same time period. Business will be quieter, which means the need for your input will be lessened, which means you can be on vacation with a clear conscience.