One thing that many entrepreneurs face is complete burnout.
According to Harvard Business Review, “some evidence suggests that entrepreneurs are more at risk of burnout because they tend to be extremely passionate about work and more socially isolated, have limited safety nets and operate in high uncertainty.”
How can we avoid this? Many articles suggest a better work-life balance, such as not checking your email or apps on your phone after a set time or on the weekends. But as business owners, that is often difficult to do. After all, one mistake could cost your company lots in lost profits and clientele.
While being better at not working around the clock and using productivity strategies to get more done in less time will certainly help, actually taking time off has been shown to greatly improve job satisfaction and overall happiness.
The Types of Hiatus
There are several different types of hiatuses that you can take to benefit yourself and your business. A hiatus is the amount of time that you close down or take off work. It’s usually longer than a regular vacation of a few weeks or days and requires a good plan so the business doesn’t take a hit during your absence.
But for the purpose of this article, thinking of your time off as a hiatus is really thinking of the time that you’re completely turning off and focusing on yourself. This will not only benefit your business but also your overall well-being, which is important for a business owner.
The most popular type of hiatus is usually a few months. One graphic design agency owner I spoke with shuts down her agency every summer. She and her employees enjoy their time off traveling, recharging and brainstorming ideas for the coming quarters. When they’re back from the summer, they’re ready to tackle their clients’ needs. Because clients know going in that the agency is closed during the summer, they have realistic expectations and know ahead of time that the agency is going to be unreachable.
Seasonal 3-Day Weekends
A hiatus that is less unusual is taking certain days of the week off, such as every Friday in the summer. This is a great way to be more active in the summer when the weather is nice and there’s more to do. As more and more Millennials say they value work-life balance and job flexibility, offering this type of hiatus to your employees could help you hire better talent and also enjoy the benefits that come from recharged and happy employees.
Extended Time Off During Slow Periods
Another hiatus that businesses are starting to employ is taking certain weeks of the year off. Many businesses in the creative space take off the week between Christmas and New Year. You probably have found that your week during that time of year isn’t busy anyway, so it’s not going to really hurt profits to be closed when most people aren’t working and are instead spending time with their families. It also gives employees more vacation time, since they don’t have to use it during the holidays. Some businesses also choose to be closed for a week or two during the summer. Choosing to do a standing week each year, like the Fourth of July, could be a good option, so clients and employees know that you’re always closed that week.
The Benefits of Hiatus
The benefits of hiatus depend on what you do during your time off. For instance, Microsoft founder Bill Gates goes up to a cabin to recharge and read for two weeks every year. Other founders have found that taking time off to brainstorm new ideas for their business intentionally has brought about several good project and strategy ideas that they wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. When your brain is preoccupied with ongoing tasks that take up most of the day, it’s hard to put any time toward forward-thinking ideas.
A hiatus can also help end procrastination. When you know that you’re going to be gone, it can force you to get all of your lingering projects and to-do list items done before you leave. This is especially the case if you are going to be on hiatus for more than a few days. This type of reset can help your business by preventing projects from being stuck in purgatory when they easily could be finished with a few hours of work.
How to Deal With Daily Tasks
One thing many entrepreneurs struggle with when it comes to taking time off is deciding who’s going to handle their daily tasks. This ranges from tasks for their clients, such as monitoring social media if you’re a marketing company, or even checking the email inbox of the contact form on your website.
Depending on your company, there are several different ways you can do this. A simple autoresponder to emails can let people know when you’re back in the office, taking care of email management. But if you’re afraid that you’ll miss something, it may be easier to just check email once a day or every other day during the hiatus instead of letting email pile up. If it helps you have a better vacation to spend 15 minutes checking your email in the morning before enjoying your day, then it may be worthwhile.
Coverage Through Freelancers or VAs
If you don’t want to take on the tasks yourself while you’re out, or if it’s possible for someone else to do it for you, consider outsourcing your daily chores or work to a freelancer or virtual assistant. Many entrepreneurs want to do everything themselves, but they often find that giving up control and letting someone else help them with their business actually makes them more effective and productive. Think of what you can outsource not only while you’re on hiatus, but as part of your everyday work.
For instance, if incoming unsolicited emails are all captured on your website contact form, would that be better served going to a virtual assistant (VA) who can filter the messages and send them to the right people? Entrepreneurs should always be focusing on high-level tasks, which in most cases, can be completed before going on hiatus. All the regular tasks such as bookkeeping, email or client check-in can usually be outsourced to a VA or a contracted freelancer while your business is closed.
Many entrepreneurs are afraid to even consider going on hiatus, but you’ll find that many clients are so wrapped up in their own tasks that having someone they work with leave for a few months or a week or two during the year really isn’t that big of a deal. If your clients enjoy working with you, they will wait for you to come back. Besides, the people who decide not to work with you just because you’re taking time for yourself and your company to get better probably aren’t the type of people you want to work with anyway.
One way to give yourself the time you need to take a hiatus is by working more efficiently when you’re on the job. ProjectManager is an online project management software that helps you plan, monitor and report more productively. And, worst-case scenario, if you’re on hiatus and need to check up on a project, our software is accessible any time and anywhere there’s an internet connection. Go on, give yourself a break and try ProjectManager today with this free 30-day trail.