Strike a Work Life Balance and Cure That Vacation Anxiety

Want to maintain a healthy work-life balance? You need to get over your hangups about taking a vacation and unplug for once – here are some tips to help you manage the vacation jitters.

Starting a business takes hard work and long hours. But burnout is also a danger, so in order to strike a good work life balance you’ll want to take some time off occasionally to recharge your entrepreneurial batteries.

When entrepreneurs leave for even a short period they often worry about what’s happening back at the business. There’s always so much to do and opportunities you don’t want to miss. How can you ever relax? Time off becomes an alien concept to many entrepreneurs more accustomed to 80-hour workweeks than basking in the sun on an exotic beach somewhere.

According to survey results from American Express, 40% of small business owners — those with less than $200,000 in annual revenues — regularly plan no vacation time. And about 25% of business owners with higher revenues expect to be business-bound all summer long.

Even many small business owners who are planning a break in coming months won’t truly get away. One of every three will link their vacation time to a business trip and half plan to check in with the office at least once a day while 20% will be calling several times a day.

We list the top concerns, according to the Amex survey, that stop most entrepreneurs from hitting the vacation highway and offer seven tips to cure them.

These are the top concerns that stop most entrepreneurs from hitting the vacation highway:

  • An important client or customer will not receive appropriate service.
  • The business will miss out on a new opportunity.
  • There is no other competent person to leave in charge.
  • The individuals left in charge will make the wrong decisions.
  • An operational or equipment breakdown will occur without anyone to solve the problem.

Given the dedication required to start and operate a successful small business, such concerns are not surprising. Business owners can seldom take vacations completely worry-free. But with a little planning and preparation, even the busiest business owners can boost the enjoyment level of their time off and return more refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges and opportunities.

These seven steps can help cure even the worst case of vacation anxiety:

  • Set a plan. To avoid unpleasant surprises, create a list of scenarios on current projects and brief internal staff or colleagues on the possibilities and chief concerns of each customer. Advance planning will ensure that clients can speak to someone who understands their concerns even if you aren’t there.
  • Brief key clients or customers. Offer advance notice of any extended absence you are planning. Introduce your stand-ins and express your confidence in their ability to handle any issues that might arise. As an extra comfort level, consider letting them know how to reach you should a true emergency come up.
  • Be a delegator not a dictator. If you never delegate important tasks to others at your small business, you can’t expect them to fill your shoes when you take time off. To create a saner schedule for yourself, and achieve a comfort level that good things will happen when you’re not there, learning to delegate responsibilities is vital.
  • Schedule time off during business down times . Most businesses have times of the year when the pace is slower, or at least a little less crazy. Plan your vacation then.
  • Try nearby mini vacations. For a quick battery recharge, get out of town for just a day or two. Even a brief escape with a change of scenery can do wonders for your perspective. Avoid the temptation to call or sneak back to the office to “check up” on what’s happening.
  • Take time off to sharpen skills. If you are the type of person who absolutely can’t kick back, then at least try taking time off to learn something new. Taking a continuing education course at a local college or business school is a low-cost and effective way to break from your business routine.
  • Keep your priorities straight. List the things you really care about. Those might include staying close to your family and friends, spending time with kids, developing personal interests, staying healthy and pursuing work that you enjoy. Keeping work, family and personal time in perspective can help you find more enjoyment in your time away from the business.

Our Bottom Line:

Vacation anxiety is a common affliction among entrepreneurs, but it can lead to future problems if you never get any R&R. You know we stress the importance of life planning, and maintaining the right work life balance for you. Time off is vital to help provide you with perspective that often comes only from a distance, and also to help give others in your business a chance to take on additional responsibilities while you are away.

© 2005 BizBest Media Corp.

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