Half-term – arrgh! You have a picture in your head of taking time off from the business to spend with your family. You’ll spend quality time doing fun stuff, posting smiling #familytime selfies on Instagram – returning to your desk the following week to a business that has carried on earning you money and is ready to pick up where you left off.
In practice it often doesn’t work out like that – no matter how much preparation you do:
- you set your out of office reply on your emails,
- you schedule your social media
- you clear your desk, making sure that any clients you are currently working with have been updated as to where you are with their project, and when you’ll be back
Despite this, I can almost guarantee that at some point in the week a client will call your mobile, and in the time that you are supposedly ‘not working’ you simply can’t stop thinking about your business; your head is flooded with new ideas, and things that you should’ve done last week. You think about loss of earnings, and whether your clients will go elsewhere if you don’t answer their email or call.
What often happens is that taking time off actually makes you more stressed and overwhelmed than being at work and doesn’t end up being the break that you expected (or needed). When you couple that with the fact that everywhere you go the car parks are full and town is heaving with people who seem incapable of walking in a straight line, it’s enough to leave you wondering if you can covertly drink a G&T at 3pm, if you put it in a tall glass and tell the kids it’s juniper juice. Your kids seem to spend the week either ignoring you or winding you up, leaving stuff everywhere they go and making you wonder why you even bothered to take time off.
So, is there anything you can do to ensure that you have a calmer experience when you take time out of your business for a holiday – or are you destined to work 52 weeks of the year forever? Here are a couple of simple things you can do to make the week feel better for all of you and manage the chaos.
- Yours – holidays never go 100% to plan, even in the movies. Try not to do too much, maybe choose one or two things that you’d like to do or places to go and plan which days you’ll do them. Remember that you are not competing with anyone else, and that no-one ever puts the horrible bits of their week on social media….here is Amy with her leg trapped down the side of a breakwater after I told her not to run off again, waiting for the fire crew and ambulance as a traffic warden fines me £80 for my pay and display ticket expiring….
- Your Family – Explain that you will do some fun stuff this week, but that you also want time off to read your book and drink a cup of tea in peace and that it’s your week off too. Make sure they know who is meant to be making dinner or taking the dog out each day, otherwise they’re likely to assume that because you’re at home you’ll do it.
- Your Teenager / older child – if they have homework they need to do it. If they will need help they need to let you know early in the week – not at 9pm on the Sunday before they go back – and if next week they have food tech, they need to give you the ingredient list before you head out to Sainsburys. And they need to put their school uniform in the wash if they want something clean to wear on Monday.
- Your clients – If you have caught up with anyone who you are actively working on before you finish for the week by phone or email and updated them on their case there should be no need for them to call you when you are off. Set your out of office reply and voicemail and then leave it alone. Make your message positive, let them know that you’re taking a much-needed holiday and that if they have an emergency they can call your colleague / pa / text you and you’ll call them back, otherwise you’ll be back on Monday. If you have staff, you may be able to ask them to periodically check your email and respond to anything urgent – otherwise you’ll just need to hold your nerve.
Create consistent income.
This really is one of my ultimate financial survival strategies and the end goal for any business owner. The place you want to work towards is that although you have the flexibility and vision of running your own business and making an impact in the world, you have the financial security of an employee at a well-run blue-chip company.
What this means is that you draw a fixed salary from the business every month, leaving the surplus to build up, so that when you’re on holiday (or you have a quieter month) you can still have the same income and peace of mind that your bills will be paid and your expenses covered.
There are many ways to do this – but the first step is keeping your personal money and business money separate – even if you’re a sole-trader and all the money is earned by you. Use a different account than you pay your mortgage and bills from, this can be a ‘normal’ personal bank account – so either open a new one, or dig out the paperwork for an existing account that has been sitting there with £4 in for years but you’ve never got round to closing.
So what’s next? Have you found this useful? Would you like more helpful tips to get you started?
The 4 top tips that successful women use to create calm, prevent overwhelm and allow them to focus on their business, their family and the other things that make life fun!
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