How to Take a Day Off from Work
September 3rd 2021
As we slide into the fall season, many entrepreneurs may be wondering what happened to summer. When was that break we were supposed to take?
The reality is that after too many months of an ongoing pandemic, we all need a break. Even a day. Just some time for self-care and relaxation, when we stop doing work.
For some women entrepreneurs, this concept of a day without work may be almost inconceivable, which is a sure sign that you’re in need of one. No business can function well forever with an owner who is obsessing 24/7 about it. It’s just not sustainable, and it sure isn’t healthy.
So what, exactly, can you do to take a day off from work? Several entrepreneurs shared their strategies for taking some time away.
Understand your business cycles. Before choosing when to take a day to yourself, look at when your business is typically quieter. That way, your being away will be less disruptive, says Jennifer LaPointe, founder of Traverse Bay Farms. “ LaPointe explains that their business is in a tourist town and “most of the tourists leave to go back home on Sunday and, looking at our numbers from previous years indicates, Mondays and Tuesdays are consistently slower days,” so she decided to close the company’s retail stores on those days to get a break.
Explain the “why” to employees. To feel confident that your company can survive without you, even for a little while, you need to feel secure that your employees will make decisions the way you would. The only way for that to happen is for you to share how and why you do things the way you do. “Talk with employees frequently about the ‘why’ behind doing things and making decisions, so they feel more empowered to respond to situations when you, the primary decision-maker are not in the office, versus requiring that they always get direction from you,” recommends Cylient CEO Dianna Anderson, MCC. Sharing the “why” will also help reduce their reliance on you even when you’re at work.
Plan ahead. Jordan Bishop, founder and CEO of Yore Oyster, says the first step is planning days off. “It’s important to recognize that a business owner shouldn’t plan these days when they’re already feeling burned out, but, rather, when they think they’ll start feeling that way in the future.” For example, if you know you always feel overwhelmed around Labor Day, or really need a break once the days get shorter, look ahead on your calendar and choose a day in September and/or October when you’re not going to work.
Delegate. Next, says Bishop, “after the date has been set, it’s important to let employees know and delegate all tasks needed. If, for example, you have a business partner or manager, that person should be in charge while you’re away. “If all employees know when the business owner will be away, and they know what to do, then that business is set not to be disrupted during that time off.” Of course, you can set up a way to reach you in an emergency, but it’s important to make it clear that that’s the only situation when you should be texted, emailed, or called
Put someone in charge. Says Renee Fry, CEO of Gentreo, “It is often hard to choose one person to put in charge, but you need to pick one person who you trust who can make decisions. If no one is in charge, or no one has the authority to make decisions, decisions will not get made,” she cautions.
Block off time. Another approach is to build in slower days to your schedule. Stephanie Desaulniers, business strategist and course creator with Business by Dezign, has one day a week that is a client-free day, she says. “This day is blocked off so that no one can schedule calls or appointments with me. While I typically use this day to catch up on administrative tasks, occasionally I use it for a self-care day.”
Enforce boundaries. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to getting that day off is setting and enforcing boundaries. Alexis Haselberger, a time management and productivity consultant, says, “I set boundaries around work. I don’t work evenings and weekends, and if I’m taking a day off, I plan not to do any work at all. I set an out-of-office reply that lets my clients know where I am and when I’ll reply.”
Send a reminder. After you’ve decided when you’re taking a day off, you’ve prepped your team, and you’ve alerted your clients, it’s still a good idea to remind everyone. Rym Benchaar, a business coach and marketing strategist, says, “When I take a day off, I also ensure to set expectations with my clients, to avoid any bad surprises. Something as simple as a heads up through an email will do the trick.”
Entrepreneurs who overwork themselves are more prone to burnout, which is bad for business and can damage your company’s overall productivity. So, instead, carve out time for yourself, starting with a day off.