There comes a time in every business owner’s life that a vacation is an absolute necessity. It’s easy to get burned out if you never take time for yourself, even though the work, work, work culture of the United States dictates otherwise. Vacation for the small business owner, though, is different than a job where you punch in and out at a time clock. When you’re ready to take the plunge, here are some tips on how and when you should plan a real vacation.
Not Your Average Vacation Accrual
If you’re an old pro at having a small business, then you might already know how to separate true vacation time from personal time. However, if you’re used to the traditional way of thinking where an employer grants you a specific amount of vacation than you can take at various points throughout the year, it can be daunting to try and carve out that regulated time yourself. It’s great being your own boss, but larger companies provide structures already in place that so you don’t have to worry about how much time off you should take. When you’re a small business owner, on the other hand, you have to create those personal and professional divides yourself. This is much easier if you’ve already established a firm difference between when you’re “at work” versus when you’re “at home,” regardless of the fact that both things may happen in the same physical space. Even if your office is your online Shopify store, you still need to step away from your virtual desk once and a while.
Knowing When You Need Time Off
Entrepreneur advises that knowing and understanding what makes you feel overwhelmed is extremely important. The key is being able to identify the root issue, but if that doesn’t help, you may just need some time away from your working life. Not everyone realizes when they’re getting burned out, opting instead to work harder and power through the feelings of intellectual, and even physical, fatigue. This is only going to cause more harm than good in the long run, since you’ll run yourself into the ground. Instead of torturing yourself by continuing to overwork, take a step back and evaluate how you’re feeling. Maybe you’re stuck on a project, or frustrated with a particular aspect of the business that’s causing undue stress. Occasionally, getting to the root of these problems can make a world of difference, and you might feel totally refreshed. On the other hand, if that doesn’t help, then it’s very possible that you simply need some time off to recharge. Don’t dismiss the importance of giving your brain time to decompress.
Your Brain Has Needs Too
Europeans are known for taking long stints of paid time off, a practice at which many American workers balk. However, according to Business Insider, Americans should take a page from the Swedish approach to work and recognize that true vacations are necessary to keep up creativity and productivity. Just like basic physical necessities, your mind also has serious needs to that should be addressed. In the long run, letting your mind rest and indulging in leisure time can make a huge difference in improved productivity and creativity. There’s no point in being merciless to yourself, because your brain will peter out whether you want it to or not. The human mind isn’t designed for nonstop intensive critical thinking. It needs a break, just like your body needs sleep. Taking a vacation is exactly the type of stimulation you need to help you recharge, where you’re not focused on work or dealing with stress, but indulging in activities that are purely for enjoyment. While that doesn’t mean that everything you do has to be mindless, the point is that you’re not thinking constantly about work, which can run you down faster than any other type of thought process. Recognizing your brain’s needs is essential to running a productive, successful business.
Your Vacation Should Be an Actual Vacation
The New York Times advises planning your vacation time around the slow periods of your industry. There’s no point in taking a vacation if you can’t focus completely on relaxing and putting work out of your mind. For example, if you just got off the road with an ambitious round of pop-shop appearances armed with your portable credit card reader, take a break! Vacation is great after you complete an intense period of work. If you’ve been traveling or preparing for the holiday rush, taking advantage of subsequent lulls is one of the best opportunities to take time off. Everyone else is in the process of recovering from the busy seasons, too, so try to schedule vacations when business is slow.
Taking a self-appointed vacation from your online business is just as important as using up accrued vacation time from a full-time employer. Although it may seem daunting since it’s a self-regulated move, it’s absolutely necessary. You are your own boss, so sit down and think about what kind of vacation time you’d give your own employee.