I’m going to be blunt and say that entrepreneurs are terrible at taking vacations . It’s not uncommon for us to go for many years without taking them ,. And when we do, most of us work from our computers instead of enjoying our vacations.
I get it, I was in that boat once.
What even is a “working” vacation?
In my experience, entrepreneurs tend to take two types of vacations. Either they take a “working vacation” during which they work the whole time , which isn’t really vacation, or an off-grid vacation without internet, computer, and phone.
I used to be a “working vacation” type of person. When I was planning my last vacation, a trip to Italy for three weeks, I thought about how I could combine a working vacation with an off-grid vacation. Although I am not ready to go off-grid (and I honestly don’t think that I would enjoy it), I did not want to be too involved in my work.
It was my best vacation. I was able take some time off and not worry about my business. I also didn’t get flooded with work upon my return. This could be the new “working holiday” for entrepreneurs. It allows you to keep in touch with your business and keep it moving forward, but also allows you to relax and enjoy the rest of your vacation.
This is how I did it.
Zoom will ruin your vacation
As the founder and CEO of a fully remote business, I spend a lot of my time in Zoom meetings. When planning my vacation, the first thing I did was to cancel all Zoom meetings during my absence. My team was informed that I would be available via Slack, Asana and email asynchronously, but would not be attending any live meetings.
The problem with Zoom is its synchronous nature. You must be available at your computer at a specific time and date to participate in a Zoom meeting, unlike asynchronous communication such as email, Asana or Slack. This is not a good way to go on vacation. You have to schedule your day around meetings, which inevitably leads to more work and more meetings.
If you want to enjoy your vacation, but not work, don’t let yourself be forced into a Zoom meeting. You have to.
Setting your team up for success
As a business owner, you need to have some level of trust that your team is going to do the right things while you’re gone.
Before you go on vacation, make sure your team is set up for success. They will be able to take decisions and move forward with projects without your involvement. At my company, Leverage, we use my CPR Business Efficiency Framework, which helps with this. CPR stands to communicate, plan and resource. These are the three essential areas that every company must master in order to be efficient.
But here’s how it works with regards to taking time off as a founder:
Communication needs to be optimized and organized, so that you can poke your head into Slack or email and quickly get the information you need from your team or review past communications as needed.
Planning is crucial, and not just while you’re on vacation. Your team will know what projects they are working on at any given time. You’ll also be able monitor their progress remotely without micromanaging.
Resource involves knowledge and process documentation. This documentation will ensure that your team is able to locate the information they need and can relax knowing that your core business processes are being completed in the correct way, by the right people and on the right time.
With the right operational framework in place, your team will be able to keep the business moving forward with or without your involvement. You can check in quickly to see how things are without having to go through hundreds of emails or attend meetings.
Inbox zero is your one (and only) job
So, what’s left for you to do during your vacation? You don’t have to be bored. All you need to do is check your inbox twice daily. I’ve spoken previously about the merits of inbox zero and how to achieve it, but in this case, you’ll want to take it one step further by getting to inbox zero in email, your chosen internal communication tool (like Slack or Microsoft Teams), and your project management software. This will help you stay on top of your team’s activities and let you catch up with others who may have missed them. It is important to remove bottlenecks. You must be able give feedback to your team and approve their work so that they can move forward. This process will allow you to still “run” your business but only you must commit a few hours each day. You can choose when these few hours are spent. This means that you are still in control of your vacation.
And the best part? You can now relax and not worry about your business or the mountains of work waiting for you when you return.