Remember when you were young, and you could not wait for the school year to end and start your summer vacation? Remember the excitement whether you were going away to camp, on a day trip to the beach or just hanging out? No matter what, it was great to be done with school and moving on to something new. Even as adults, we have that desire to get away on the first warm and sunny day of summer.
I do not know about you, but even after being in business for 30 years, I find there is a different feel in the air each summer. Experience has shown that business people actually conduct business differently during the summer, and at a slower pace. People are more willing to take a little longer lunch (maybe even outside), meet for a networking opportunity or even sneak out for an afternoon away from the office (perhaps a quick round of golf).
When things go slow, do not panic; take advantage of the quiet time. Focus on you and your business without distractions. What better time for you, the CEO, to sneak out and take a bizcation. Not the typical bizcation, which is defined as the combination of a business trip and a leisure trip (although that sounds like a great idea also!). What I am proposing is to physically remove yourself from the office and stop working “in” your business. I would also recommend giving your brain a break from the day to day monotony. Some of the best days off include staying at home and doing nothing or at least not doing what you normally have to day after day.
I know you think you are too busy, have too much to do. You may wonder who will run the operations while you are away? Well, if that is true, that is a big problem, and one I will discuss in another blog.
Why is it that we do not take time off? Is it because we think someone will think we are not busy or that our business is failing? Do we worry someone will do it better while we are away? Who cares what others think and yes, someone might run it better or at least differently, but that is ok. As the CEO, you need a break. It is not good for you or your company to work all the time. As an owner (and leader) you must set the tone and be the example of work-life balance by not feeling guilty to take time off. If you never take time off and act as if you are always too busy, that work ethic and culture will permeate your organization. That is never good. You want a dedicated team that works hard and smart by embracing the need to take time to recharge. No one can truly be at the top of their game if they do not take a break and get away.
Ok, so take a deep breath and plan your bizcation. Remember there is always a lot to do before you go on vacation and taking time away from your business is no different. I would recommend to use the time before a vacation to get all the little projects done that are always left for another day. Do not try to tackle everything. I would suggest that you make a list of the loose ends and a list of open items. Then, assign responsibility to others for the open items and you clean up the loose ends. You may have to delegate to others in order to have your open items covered while you are away. Delegating and showing your team you trust them will empower the team to pitch in any time someone needs help (not just when a colleague is away) and gives them the space to shine in your absence.
Tying up loose ends takes time and by the time you are heading out the door, you will really need a break! Believe me, it is worth it. Take a deep breath, enjoy, and come back refreshed with a clear head.
Once you are physically and mentally away, you should allocate some time for yourself and some time for your business. With a clear head, you will look at things differently. Find a good book to read for fun and find resources from business experts that will provide insight into the areas of your business that need improvement. Take the time to learn, set the foundation to move forward, and come up with a plan to put in place upon your return.
As your bizcation nears its end, do not dread jumping back into it, as you did the necessary clean up before you left. If you did it right, you have used your time wisely and will return with renewed energy and knowledge. Remember when you were a kid and when you returned in the Fall, everyone had to share what they did over the summer with the class? You can do the same thing: share with your team what you did on your bizcation, where you went, what you did, and what you took away from your summer experiences.
Taking time away in the summer gives you the chance to be thoughtful, learn something, and reset before the crazy pace of the fourth quarter and before you know it, year-end. Everyone can and should take time away, find your back up and remember no one is indispensable, not even you. Come back as the new, improved you with fresh ideas, energy, and renewed passion.