Planning time off when you have your own business

5 tips for stress-free time off 

Summer holidays are rapidly approaching! Are you planning for your time off? 

The idea of going on holidays when you’re working your arse off building your business can actually feel more stressful than relaxing! Especially when the work has started to come in. Back when I was offering graphic design services I used to be sneakily working during my holidays. Tweaking “a few loose ends” sometimes turned into a half day of work. I thought nothing of it at the time, but it meant that I never really switched off properly. I was afraid that all the hard work I’d done to build my client base meant that I had to be available constantly in case I’d miss an opportunity.

I’ve been chatting with my mastermind group about the importance of taking a break to avoid burn-out and get perspective on the coming year. These are some of the insights we’ve found.

5 tips for stress-free time off

1 Batch your check up

Instead of responding to notifications all the time, try to schedule a time where you’ll check your email and other alerts. If you can turn off notifications on your phone and plan to check in once a day (if not once a week!) you’ll be able to relax and recharge which ultimately means having more energy for the coming year.

2 Get back up

Is there is someone you can trust to run things while you’re gone? Maybe you know someone who can help your customers and represent you while you’re off. This could work as a collaboration. They cover for you, then you cover for them while there off. Just be sure to get the details ironed out beforehand.

I’ve been building relationships with other designers and developers over the years and it helps me to relax knowing that I’m leaving customers in good hands if they need something while I’m away.

3 Wrap up

Make sure that you have all your projects finalised before shutting up shop. Take a look at all on-going projects and do a final ‘sprint’ of intense work before your break. It might mean a couple of late nights but there’ll be a holiday at the end of it so that often helps to stay focused. And if you’re seriously swamped, ask for help! You never have to do it all alone.

4 ‘Fess up

If you don’t have a back up, and it’s not possible to finish everything then ‘fess up! Tell your customers about your break as far in advance as possible. You could even write your back-to-work date in your email signature or on your website in the weeks before you go so that they can plan around it.

5 Get set up

The first thing that most people do when shutting down for holidays is to activate an autoresponder on their email account. That means when somebody emails you, they’ll get an instant response saying that you’re off and will be back on whatever date. You can also include a link that connects them to an automated email sequence. This can be set up with most email marketing tools. MailChimp has just released automation for free accounts. (They’re the only ones in the email marketing industry to offer this for free.)

This means:

  • New customers can sign up via your site, social channels or link in your email signature
  • They join a mailing list by opting-in
  • By adding their name to this list they trigger a sequence of emails from you / your company
  • These emails consist of blog posts, videos, insider insights, promotions… 
  • By setting up this sequence, your new (or potential) customer doesn’t forget about you and they get familiar with you / your business style / your products meaning that they’ll be more ready to buy from you when you’re back to work.

You can also automate your social media posts with tools like Buffer and Later. This maintains your social media presence so you can switch off and enjoy some downtime.

I hope that helps you guys to enjoy your hard-earned break. I’ll be spending time with family and friends in August after a year of fine-tuning my new business offering and adjusting to life with a second child! A year certainly flies by! Holidays give me a chance to think about something else and when I get back to my desk I appreciate the fact that I actually love the work I do!

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