Most people don’t try to dispute the merits of taking a day off. But business owners often try to justify why they aren’t doing it. It’s not that they don’t want to, but their never ending task list and always-on mind keeps them from actually doing it!

Does this sound like you?

“I know Time off – totally off – is so important… but…”

According to a survey by small business lender OnDeck, only 57% of small business owners opt to take a vacation or even more than a day off, every year!

But not taking a vacation can do much more to harm your business than to help. Without time to refresh, you will be less creative, less productive, and less communicative.

Without some time to recharge, you will burn out. You will begin to see the effects of stress on your health, finances, and relationships. Plus, with the holidays quickly approaching, you’ll want to be able to spend quality time with friends and family without worrying about getting work done.

If you’re not on the same page yet, regarding how important time off is, read this article by our former coach, Dan Sullivan, 2 Strategies For Taking Effective Free Days as an Entrepreneur

Now, before you panic trying to figure out what you should do first to be able to take free days, we’ve got you covered.

Here are 6 ways to take time off:

1) Plan Ahead.

It might seem counterintuitive, but in order to actually take time off, start by planning your free days and your vacation days before anything else. Get them on the calendar. Start deciding what you are going to do, and then let your team know that you’re going to be gone.

If you can create a simple plan, then real time off or even the vacay of your dreams doesn’t have to feel that unattainable – even if you’re the only person managing your business. (Or one of the only people.)

After you’ve got your days off on the calendar, you will want to plan the business tasks that you can take care of ahead, do or schedule before your vacation. Make a list of everything that you feel needs to be done. We can refer back to that later. It might include:

  • Social Media Posts.
  • Sending out Invoices to clients.
  • Posting a new blog post, podcast or vlog.
  • Your weekly email blast.

Now look at your list and see what tools are available or perhaps what you already use that might help you do these things ahead of time.

For example, if you need to post on social media while you’re gone, then create your content (or have someone else create it, more on that in the next tip) and then schedule your posts for the days you’re gone. You can do this using tools like Tailwind or Buffer. (Tailwind is a tool that lets you visually plan your Instagram and Pinterest posts and pins.

If you need some help creating your social media posts, we have a set of free Canva Templates that were created for just this reason. Check them out to see if they can help you plan.

If you need to send your list via an email while you’re away, almost all the email marketing tools allow you to write, edit and then schedule your emails as well. Our favorite tools for this is Active Campaign. If you choose to use this tool, it will let you segment your list easily, create specific funnels, and set up automations, without feeling overwhelmed or like you need a Geek Squad member to explain how it works.

If you need to send invoices or remind clients of invoices that are coming up, you can use a tools like FreshBooks to setup, remind and schedule invoices to be sent to your clients. (We use it for recurring monthly clients as well. They have an easy-to-use platform and excellent customer service!)

There are lots of tools out there that are meant to help you automate your business so that you aren’t trying to handle every little details yourself.

2) Delegate & Don’t Micro-Manage!

I know that this will come as a shock to some of you, but many business owners, especially those that are mostly solopreneurs or started out doing everything themselves, can be (a little) controlling. But delegation will lead to freedom. (I promise you can do it!)

Plus, let’s be honest, you can’t ever scale if you keep doing everything yourself!

Now, I am not suggesting that you run out and hire a huge team, just so you can take a vacation. But, there are plenty of tools that can help you move things off your plate. It might mean that you need help with some personal tasks so that you can focus on the things that need to be done for your business.

Tools to help with delegation:

  1. Gusto for Payroll and management of your insurances and taxes.
  2. Fiverr for social media creation or post scheduling.
  3. Hire a qualified virtual assistant from 24/7 Virtual Assistants
  4. Find someone that can handle running errands and handyman task for you on TaskRabbit
  5. Have your groceries delivered with services like Shipt.
  6. If you’ll need some treats on your trip you could look at using a service like Drizly, which deliver alcohol and drinks to any address.

If you need a tool that’s not listed here, do a quick Google search, and I bet there is one out there just for that.

3) Create a Buffer.

When you’re doing your planning you’ll want to take the day before and after your trip off, so that you can do anything that might need immediate attention or finish anything that needs to be wrapped up before you leave, including packing.

If a full day seems impossible, start with a half-day, but build in some buffer time. You will be thankful you did when the time comes.

4) Set a Few Vacation Rules.

Decide if you’ll be checking in while you’re away. If you’re traveling overseas, your internet or phone coverage might be spotty, so keep that in mind too. But, even if you stick close to home, you’ll want to set some guidelines for yourself so that you can enjoy your vacation without being glued to your phone.

Set a day and time that you’ll be checking in. If you’re gone a week, perhaps you check in three times for one hour. I do suggest that you do not check in everyday. There are always things that can pull your attention away from being present. You’ve prepared and worked hard, you deserve to enjoy this time off.

If you have a team or a virtual assistant, you can let them know what you consider a real emergency while you’re away, and tell them how to reach you if something is truly urgent.

Otherwise, let people know your plan and stick to it.

You will also want to let clients and partners know your “drop dead date” for last minute requests prior to your time off. You will need to tell them a week or two early, and then stick to it once the date comes.

5) Create and Schedule Your Out-of-Office Email.

Create your out-of-office email so that it alerts clients that might be trying to get a hold of you while you’re gone. Be sure to include the dates you’ll be gone in the email, and let them know when they can expect a reply. Ideally, tell them you will respond when you’re back and not on the days you’re just checking in for your own peace of mind.

6) Have Fun!

After you’ve properly prepared, you will be able to relax, your clients will know exactly what to expect, your team will know what to do, and you’ve set your boundaries so that you can feel refreshed and rejuvenated once you return!