How to Schedule Time off in Your Business
We start a business and we think "this is great - I'll be able to make my own schedule and take time off whenever I want to!" ...and then we don't. At least I didn't.
I know how hard it can be to take a real vacation away from your own business. But it's also incredibly important so that we can show up and be the best bosses we can be. Without disconnecting, burn out can be a real problem.
I'm a big fan of setting energetic boundaries for yourself and your business. Self-care is what keeps us grounded and motivated to keep working towards our own vision of success. After all, we didn't start a business so that we could work 60 hours a week every week of the year, did we?
Let me outline how I go about scheduling vacation time in my business.
How I schedule my time off:
Step 1 - I implemented a proper scheduling strategy for client projects
It may sound like this should be a given for any service provider, but truth be told, I didn't actually have a solid plan in place for scheduling client projects. I would take them on as they came (which at one point last year meant working with 11 clients at one time - don't do it), and the projects would end when everyone was happy and had what they needed.
Well, it's easy to see why this didn't work very well. I had projects lasting almost 1 year that should have taken 6 weeks. I needed a plan and I needed systems in place to keep client projects on track.
I decided this year to take a big-picture look at my systems and I revamped my entire process from start to finish. In doing so, I was able to put together a solid plan for keeping clients on track. I now outline every step of the project in Asana (my project management tool) and then I schedule the project into Google Calendars to span the 6-10+ weeks it'll take to finish.
This allows me to see what clients are active and how many I have on my plate at once. I can also then scroll through the upcoming weeks to see when projects will end and book new clients accordingly.
Tip: schedule in an extra week or two of buffer time between projects for those just-in-case scenarios.
Step 2 - I plan my time off in advance
By looking at my schedule well in advance, I am able to see how many client projects I have on my plate and when each project is scheduled to finish. I like to give myself at least a couple of month's notice for taking more than a day off. This allows me to finish up current client projects and also communicate my upcoming absence to clients and potential clients ahead of time. If someone inquires during the time before my scheduled vacation, I simply let them know that we can get started right away, but the project may span a little longer as I'm taking time off.
Guess what? No one has been mad at me for it. In fact, I usually receive emails back saying how respectful and amazing it is that I take time to be with myself and my family.
Side note: I most certainly take a day off here and there as needed without notice. That's part of the benefit of being in charge of your own schedule.
Step 3 - I schedule my content
Generally, when I know I'm going to be away for a week or more, I will spend some time before I sign off scheduling content to go out while I'm taking time off. This means if I want to send a newsletter to my community, I will write it ahead of time and schedule it to send when I'm away.
I do the same for blog posts and social media posts! I use a handy tool called MeetEdgar to schedule almost all my social media posts, so I don't need to worry about that. The only thing I don't have on a schedule is Instagram. I suppose I could set one up for the next time I'm away, but that's a platform I like to be present on and perhaps even share some insights to my vacation.
By planning some content and social media posts for when I'm away, people like you will barely even miss me!
Step 4 - Do some financial planning
This is, of course, the biggest obstacle for taking time off. Time off = I don't get paid. It's not like having a 9-to-5 with benefits like a paid vacation. If I'm taking time away from my business, that means I'm not sending any invoices to my clients.
It's important to do some financial planning to account for the time off so that nothing suffers financially when you're gone. You still need to pay that rent or mortgage.
Set aside some extra money from the next few invoices that go out, or the next few sales you make to ensure you can pay the bills, but try not to discount some well-deserved time-off because of money fears.
Tip: if you're super proactive, it's best that you set some money aside each month to a vacation fund so that these breaks become more feasible throughout the year. That's what I'm planning to do in the coming year!
Step 5 - I'm leaving guilt behind
It's hard to say 'no' in your own business. I know this. It's tough to set up boundaries to protect your energy and protect you from burn-out, but it's also so necessary if you want to be sustainable on this journey. Of course, I sometimes feel anxious and guilty for taking some time away from my business.
I'm nervous it'll be hard to get back into it.
I'm nervous that maybe people will forget about me.
I'm anxious to tell potential clients that I can't start until a future date...
... but I'm also so grateful to be able to say: "hey, I'm tired and I need a break... so if I want to be my best self and the best business owner that I can be then I'm going to need some time to disconnect."
So there you have it. This is the way I make sure that I'm taking the necessary time away from my business so that I can keep the momentum going, while also living the life I want to live.
I really encourage you to do the same!
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