You Need a Vacation

We get it. It's hard to take a break when you're an entrepreneur. But it's also super important. So what do you do?

Most founders are really bad at taking vacations. 🌴 

Just ask Jason Zook. He poured two years of effort into a business he loved, without any breaks. He didn't feel tired—at first—but the hours slowly caught up to him. He started losing creative energy and sleep. And by the time he realized he needed vacations, he'd compounded too much exhaustion to recover. 😞

As Zook discovered, vacation isn't just for when you stop enjoying work; it's to ensure you keep enjoying work.

Breaks from your business also give you:

Here's how to plan your break and get some of those benefits. 🎁

First, decide what kind of vacay you need. 🍹   

Vacation isn't just flying to Waikiki for two weeks of sun, snorkeling, and Mai-Tais. 🐠

It could also be a:

  • Low-key staycation: We won't tell them you're still in town. 😴  
  • Blackout weekend: No, not that kind of blackout. We're talking digital blackout! Turn off your phone, computer, and other tech for two days. 📵
  • Three Day Getaway: The classic road trip and micro-cation. 🚙
  • Downshift: What Brad Feld calls a period of time when he works less and doesn't start anything new. ⬇️
  • Structured retreat: They’re not just for hippies. ✌️Retreats (and microconfs) can be an awesome way to recharge, connect with new people, or devote some time to a non-work hobby.

Finances or your exhaustion levels may dictate what kind of break you need. In your first year of business, you may not have the cash to travel. That's fine. Stay home, sleep, and tackle a movie marathon. 

Who says your vacation has to be insta-worthy, anyways? 📷

Buy the tickets, block off the calendar, say it out loud. 📅

Time off is critical, so treat it that way. Schedule and communicate it like you would other important deadlines.  

If you have a team, tell them when and why you're going. If you have clients, give them at least 2 weeks heads up. (I still need to get a lot better at that second one.)

Decide what you can—and can't—pause during vacation. ✋

Review what you do each week and what you have scheduled. Then, divide your tasks into three buckets:

  1. Do before you leave ✈️
  2. Delegate or automate 🤖
  3. Pick up when you get back 👋

Be reasonable with the first bucket. It's normal to want to cram everything in before you go. But you don't want to be so exhausted you can't function on vacation!  😅

Delegate or automate what you can't pause. 🤖

Most founders will have at least a few things in the delegate or automate bucket. 

To automate some tasks: 

  • Queue up social media and content posts ahead of time (e.g. with Buffer)
  • Set expectations with an email auto-responder and updated voicemail
  • Create on-boarding emails to nurture sales leads while you're out
  • Use billing software to automate any invoices 

If you have a team: Lean on these folks a bit. I'm betting you hired or partnered with them because they're pretty darn capable! 👩‍💻

If you're a solopreneur: 

  • Hire a part-time admin to handle crucial processes
  • Hire a VA to watch your inbox and social media for critical messages
  • Trade oversight with someone else in your network 
  • Pay a friend in your niche to manage a few things for you 

Note: Some of this relates to your quarterly/yearly planning and business structure. Plan vacations into your timelines and deadlines. Structure your business so it isn't 365 days a year.

Have an emergency plan, just in case. 🚨

An emergency plan can be as simple as, "call me at this number if x happens, or if things escalate to y level." 

Basically, whoever is running stuff for you needs to know what an emergency is and how to find you if one happens.

Then, if you don't hear from anyone, no news is good news. 🎉

Actually step away! 👋    

If you're going dark, turn off all your notifications. Delete Slack and Twitter. Don't bring the computer, and leave your phone in the hotel room. Go someplace with no wifi. ⛺️

If you're only working very small amounts while you're away, set up accountability. Enlist family, reminders, and teammates to ensure you don't overflow your boundaries.  

Remember, you'll only get the benefits of vacationing if you actually take a vacation. So, make sure you unplug! ⛱

Practice 😎

If you're not doing it already, start with a day off here and there. Next, take two or three days off in a row once a quarter. Try not to work at all during that time span. Or, if you do, limit yourself to an hour a day.
 
Remember, you don't have to go to Hawaii for your vacation. But send us a few pics if you do! 

"If you build your company right, it will not sink in a few days without you." –– Holly Cardew, Founder and CEO at Pixc

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please share it with a friend. You rock. ❤️