On Monday morning not too long ago, I braced myself for a deluge of email. I had not switched on my computer for three days and just knew I would have a couple of hundred emails.
I was wrong. There were 486.
That afternoon, our postal carrier left a basket of mail that must have weighed a couple of pounds.
'I need a vacation,' I muttered to myself. But that was problem. Monday was my first day back from one, and I vowed I would never take another.
I eventually came to my senses, but I still tend to think of time away from business with a mix of excitement and dread. And those feelings are looming large right now as I anticipate my daughter's holiday break from school - which this year, lasts for three long weeks.
The December holidays were one of reasons I opted for a work-at-home lifestyle. When I worked outside home as a corporate event planner, our first big convention of year always occurred second week of January. This meant I had to work 10 hours a day, six days a week each December (although I got Christmas and New Year off). I resented fact that everyone else was home decorating house and baking goodies, and vowed to be able to do that one day. Now that I'm a home based entrepreneur, I can keep that promise to myself.
But as a one-person shop, I need to take steps to insure that my business will still be here after decorations have been put away. Imagine orders, customer service calls and income opportunities we miss by being away from our posts for a couple of weeks!
The fortunate thing about a December break is that most of Western world is occupied with same things: holiday get-togethers, family activities and religious observance. All business slows down mid-December as people focus on their faith and families. The exception, of course, is Christmas shopping. If your business involves selling gift items, you may not get a holiday break until December 25. If that's case, I suggest taking at least week off between Christmas and New Year. A vacation - even a short one - will allow you to recharge your mental batteries, resulting in increased energy and creativity on January 2. It will also help you avoid feelings of resentment I experienced at that event planning job.
The trick to taking time you need and starting back up smoothly is in how you prepare your business for your absence. Here are some tips:
1. COMMUNICATION IS KEY
No matter when you begin your holiday break, you need to let your clients know. Two weeks before any vacation, Angela Strosnider of Virtual Office and Business Solutions announces it to her clients, relatives and others. 'I take laptop and check for any emergency mails as well. Besides that I make an autorespond message to all emails about when I'll return,' she says.