When was the last time you liked or gave a heart on a social media post that promoted disconnecting from the business, prioritizing self-care, investing time in overall wellness, stepping back from work to rejuvenate, gain fresh perspectives, and spark creativity? I hearted a whole bunch just this week. Yet, do we truly take care of ourselves like this? Do we create space for extended breaks from the business? I’m going to share 5 tips I’ve personally used to help me step away from work obligations for 30 consecutive days.
Don’t ignore this conversation if 30 days away from your business is 100% not possible. The idea is for you to figure out how much time you can take and work with it. I use 30 days because that has been my goal since I first read about it in 2021. The article that I read didn’t give me actionable steps but the thought of having a full 30 days off was an exceptional motivator. I am writing this on day 2 of my first ever 30 straight days of no client calls/work.
“No client calls/work” is very specific because these 30 days don’t look exactly how I wanted them to but it’s a start. I have a few work days sprinkled throughout but I’m sleeping in every day! So, rule #1, always stay flexible and don’t throw in the towel because it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it to the first time. Taking time off does not mean that we’re any less dedicated to our clients or less passionate about our work. On the contrary, this is how we can safeguard our mental health and truly create balance.
Let’s dive into my 5 tips for taking 30 days off.
1. Figure out when you’ll have gaps to take time off.
First, it’s important to be practical and realistic. Take a look ahead at least 6-12 months and consider any upcoming projects or deliverables that may require your attention. Identify periods where your workload may be lighter or when certain projects are in their final stages. Next, check your existing projects and deliverables and make note of any fixed deadlines or important events that cannot be shifted. Also, identify crucial milestones that may require your presence. Now, find the gaps where it’s possible to step away.
It’s not a deal-breaker if there are no extended gaps in your schedule and you can’t take 30 days all at once. By strategically planning shorter periods throughout the year, you can still enjoy some well-deserved time away while staying on top of your responsibilities. Just give yourself permission to take the time off and commit to fully enjoying it without feeling guilty or overwhelmed.
Don’t forget family obligations such as kids’ schedules or caregiver responsibilities. The last thing you want is to give up a sleep-in day because you forgot to add a family member’s medical check-up to the calendar. Although she doesn’t yet need a caregiver, my momma is a non-driver which means she relies on me to get her to all her appointments so I have to be diligent when scheduling. Everything has to be on the calendar and communication between us is key.
2. Block your calendar now, communicate with stakeholders, and fiercely protect your time!
Effective planning and clear communication play are vital for everything to run smoothly especially when you’re away from work. Make it a point to communicate frequently and consistently. You want to eliminate any worries about how your extended time off might impact your valued clients and stakeholders. By informing them in advance about your absence, you allow them to plan accordingly and adjust their expectations.
When you’re away, managing client expectations becomes even more important. Clearly outline any potential delays or changes in project timelines and deliverables, assuring your clients that their projects remain a top priority. Show them that any disruptions will be minimal and that you’re committed to maintaining your credibility. This isn’t just empty talk – it’s about building trust and delivering on your promises.
To effortlessly communicate your upcoming time off, take advantage of Google Calendar’s public calendar and automatic signature block features. These tools will help you keep everyone in the loop without any awkwardness. Remember to include instructions on how to reach your emergency business contact in your signature block; it’s always better to be prepared! Check out these 3 video demos on using Google Calendar features.
3. Plan with workflows, process documentation, technology, and automation.
Leveraging technology, templates, and automation will help you and your team prepare for the times when you won’t be around. And hey, even if you don’t have a team yet, this will still be super helpful for your clients and vendors. Start by creating roadmaps that will act as your trusted guides. Take some time to map out your tasks and responsibilities, and identify areas where you might need a little support to handle your usual workload.
Next, create visuals of your business processes with flowcharts. By doing this, you and your team will have a clear picture of steps that impact other activities. Stick a pin here. If everything is just in your head, not yet documented and you don’t foresee having the time to document everything, taking a full 30-day break might not be the best idea right now. But don’t put it off! There are amazing tools like ClickUp whiteboards and Boardmix that can help you get started.
If you’re not already using a task management tool, ClickUp is worth checking out. It’s a robust tool packed with features like whiteboards, checklists, recurring tasks, and automation. It’s like your secret weapon to get everything organized and keep your team focused. Trust me, you’ll love it! Reach out if you’d like to have a chat about how Clickup can reduce your workload.
Another thing to plan for is business income while you’re away. As you filter opportunities and close deals, it’s a good idea to spread out the income you’ll earn. This way, you’ll have money coming in during your time off. For example, I organized my workload and business revenue to have two invoices scheduled for payment during my 30-day break. It’s all in the planning that I did beforehand because I’ll need income to cover my business expenses and for my time off too. Include a budget in your time-off planning so you can set everything up early.
4.Set a clear plan for your time off.
Get those concert tickets, book that flight, sign up for that course, or start planning an amazing weekend with your crew! Don’t wait until you’re off to plan the time or you might find yourself dropping work-related stuff on that calendar you worked so hard to clear. I use a whiteboard calendar to keep track of my time off, so my family knows when we’re all set for fun and when I’ll be working a bit. Some might think it’s a bit much to plan out every single day but if I don’t, we’ll end up doing nothing. By doing this, I can fully enjoy my downtime and mentally prepare for those workdays.
As you plan the time off, set some specific goals for the team to work on while you’re away, like finishing up a project, hitting a sales target, or even improving a process. Communicate these objectives to your team and make sure everyone knows their role and responsibilities in achieving them. This way, they’ll feel a sense of ownership and accountability, and they’ll be empowered to make decisions and take actions that align with your goals. And hey, having some handy workflows, documented processes, templates, and automation in place will help keep things running smoothly even when you’re not around. These are game-changing tactics and will also help you if there’s an emergency.
5. Have a contingency plan.
It’s essential to have a business contingency plan in place, not just for day-to-day operations, but especially during times of absence. It ensures that your business is prepared for any unexpected emergencies. Whether you’re a solopreneur or have a small team of external consultants, it’s crucial to establish a reliable point of contact as a key element of your contingency plan. This individual will be responsible for coordinating the emergency response, communicating with important stakeholders (think clients), and even making critical decisions if necessary.
Don’t worry, your emergency point of contact doesn’t need to be an expert in your specific business, but they should have enough information to handle any potential emergencies. One way to ensure this is by creating a simple Google Doc or ClickUp Doc with a checklist that outlines all the key information and sharing it with them. It’s also important to set clear expectations regarding communication and decision-making.
Here are a few things to consider when making your checklist:
- Are your business and clients’ records/files accessible if you can’t get to your normal place of work?
- Do you have alternate ways to communicate with your team and your clients if the primary method goes down?
- Do you have a list of vendors and consultants or are they scattered in your inbox?
- Does your team know what to do or whom to contact if they can’t reach you?
- Do you have backup copies of your most important documents?
- Do you discuss or train contingency procedures at least once a year?
My final recommendation is that you share examples of what types of situations qualify as reasons your team or emergency contact should disturb you. Also, let them know if and how often you’ll be checking in. This is particularly important when you’re stepping away for the first time, as it’s natural to feel a bit nervous. Remember, they want to do a good job, but they won’t feel empowered to take ownership of their roles if you’re constantly checking in on them.
That’s it, we just covered 5 tips to help you prepare for an extended time away from your business. I’m sure you’ve thought of one or all of these at some point. Just remember that having extended gaps in your calendar won’t magically happen by itself. If you’re serious about taking time off (and not just liking wellness posts) then use these tips as a starting point to create some space in your calendar. With planning, clear and consistent communication, flowcharts, process documentation, technology, and automation, you’ll be able to sleep in for a week! And most importantly, set clear goals and have a contingency plan in place to make your time off as smooth and stress-free as possible. It’s okay to fiercely protect your downtime and permit yourself to recharge. It’s ok to want it. It’s ok to do this. Now go forth and heart a mental health post with meaning! 🦋