With the holiday season in full-swing lots of people are making plans for time off.
Read: lots of regularly employed people are making plans for time off. Unfortunately, business owners aren’t as good at the whole vacation thing.
Just recently I was conducting a session with a new business coaching client and I said, “Let’s take time off the week of Christmas and then again for New Year’s.”
He asked, “Really? Shouldn’t I be working on this stuff so I’m ready to go for 2016? I want to get this done!”
I very lovingly said he should spend the time with his family. I didn’t want him to get into the bad habit of working all hours and not taking some well-deserved time off.
Why We’re Not Taking Time Off
Unfortunately,my client’s reaction isn’t all that uncommon among business owners. Actually, it’s not uncommon among Americans, period. According to a recent Oxford study, American workers forfeited $52.4 billion dollars in paid vacation days last year.
According to a CNN article that broke the news, Americans are work martyrs. This is because people are afraid of getting fired in the lay-off era. They are afraid of losing their jobs if they don’t work as hard as they possibly can.
Again, this is regularly employed people who get vacation days. If they aren’t taking time off that’s actually paid for, what do you think self-employed individuals are doing? When all the weight is on your shoulders to keep the show running, it can be very difficult to take a much needed break.
I recently wrote a post about how business owners need to prioritize their own self-care, and this is just another one of those instances in which we don’t do that.
Be a Better Boss To Yourself
The beautiful thing about being a business owner is you don’t need to ask anyone for permission to take time off. Unfortunately, business owners also tend to be their own worst bosses.
No one is going to hand you a permission slip for taking a vacation. Essentially, you have to do it for yourself.
I learned this lesson from my virtual assistant, who is fantastic at taking time off and letting her clients know she won’t be around. She simply decides when she’s out of the office, sends and email and doesn’t ask for permission. She just does it.
Remember, it’s your business. You make the rules. You can take time off whenever you need it. I recently sent an email to all of my clients stating I wouldn’t really be around for 10 days during the holiday season, and it felt amazing!
Get Work Done Ahead of Time
If you want to make sure you are still getting paid during your vacation, you’ll have to put in a little extra elbow grease to get your work done ahead of time. That means making sure you’re ahead of your deadlines before singing off for your vacation.
A major lesson I had to learn as a business owner was that I was now in complete control of my time. That meant I had to manage the expectations of my clients and sometimes work a little harder ahead of time so I can plan to take time off.
Some business-owners also save up money when they plan for time off. For example, if you plan on not working and aren’t comfortable with the money you have in the bank, perhaps you can start a separate savings account for money you will use to pay your expenses when you take a break.
It really isn’t that difficult for business owners to plan for time off. In fact, half the battle is completely mental because we have to convince ourselves that it’s okay to take this time for ourselves. Make a commitment to yourself to take a break when you need it, and use these tips to help you plan for time off.