The importance of taking a holiday

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The importance of taking a holiday

The importance of taking a holiday!

As mum, and owner of travel company, Bookings For You, specialising in organising villa holidays to Italy, France and Croatia, Jo Mackay knows better than most the benefits of taking that ‘proper break’ and booking time off from work.

However, according to a recent YouGov Survey, as many as a third of employees aren’t taking their full quota of annual leave. And these statistics are even worse if you look at small business owners and entrepreneurs. Among this group, a OnePoll survey showed that over three quarters of small business owners and entrepreneurs have sacrificed their holidays in order to keep their business running.

So what are their reasons for not doing taking time off? Certainly for those running the business on their own, they may feel that the business can’t survive without them at the helm 24/7. Or maybe they feel if they are away, they may miss that big, once in a lifetime opportunity. Or perhaps it’s more a simply case of not feeling that they can delegate the workload.

So, whilst Jo Mackay may help thousands of people a year find the perfect holiday, does she practice what she preaches? Or does she fall into this same category of business owners seemingly unable to tear themselves away from their desks?

There is certainly no doubt in her mind that taking time out of the business can reap dividends in the long run…. giving the mind and body a much needed rest from the day to day can spur creativity, whilst being out of the office and enjoying that much needed change in scenery can truly inspire and deliver fresh ideas. Whether it’s a few days off, or even a week or fortnight out of the office, in her opinion that period of rest and relaxation definitely allows you to function more effectively and efficiently when you do return to the office, with a new zest and zeal to grow the business in the months ahead.

But, for Jo, just as important as booking the time off and taking that well deserved holiday, is ensuring that, once there, you can relax and enjoy it. All too often do you hear stories of families trying to enjoy a holiday whilst one of the parents has their phone glued to their ear fielding work calls or of days out being delayed until a crucial email has been written and sent.

There are those who believe that a holiday should reflect the other extreme and be a complete break from work… phones should be switched off and laptops ignored. But Jo Mackay doesn’t believe that this approach is either realistic or necessary either. Instead, just work smartly… the key to a successful holiday is all in the preparation.

Here are Jo’s top tips on how to give yourself that much needed break from the office:

  1. If your business is of a size where you have a good team around you, then empower those colleagues to step up to the plate in your absence.  Having a clear division of responsibilities amongst your team will ensure that everyone is clear on their roles whilst you’re out of the office, whilst being clear on the priorities will ensure that the work that needs to be focused on gets done in your absence. But don’t be too prescriptive on this either. It’s a fine balance and you may well find that, by giving your team that extra bit of freedom, that they truly shine and rise to the challenge, surprising you with their initiative.
  2. Put the workload in perspective. Most businesses can categorise their workload in order of importance and urgency. Whilst everything may seem urgent and important when you’re in the thick of it, step back and really assess priorities. Most people will find that a certain % of the ‘to do’ list can be put on hold for a few days.  As a general rule, prioritise anything that is customer facing and push back any of the back office work.
  3. Outsource the basics… You can set expectations whilst you are away by putting an ‘out of office’ response on emails. People you work and communicate with regularly will pick up on this and will start to consider what emails they sent, aware that you’re perhaps not back in the office until the following week. Or, if you want to cut down on the time you spend on devices, use a virtual assistant to check emails on your behalf. They can assess the urgency of anything and contact you with just the things that really can’t wait….
  4. Plan ahead – social media is key to so many businesses these days but with some forward planning, much of your social media can be prescheduled. The services of a virtual assistant can again be taken if you need someone to handle comments and posts on a daily basis.
  5. Schedule set time each day to check emails. In other words, set clear boundaries on when you will work each day. It’s not always realistic to switch your phone off altogether but by setting allocated times each day, you will limit how much time you spend on devices. It’s so much better than constantly checking the phone during the day and so much healthier for both yourself and anyone you are travelling with. Perhaps you may decide to get up an hour before the children to do this so that this doesn’t encroach at all on family time.
  6. Think about the best time to take a holiday. As an example, most people booking with Bookings For You stay between April and October. As a result, Jo often takes time out of the business over Christmas and New Year.  At that time, there are few guests staying in her holiday villas and most of the contact from clients is on email which can easily be managed at set times during the day. Trying to head off at the busiest time of the year for your business is only going to make it harder to switch off…

Finally, if you’re a small business owner with a team around you, it’s important to remember that, as the boss, you are responsible for setting a good example. It’s good for your team to see you putting work in perspective, it’s good for them to see you putting your faith in them to manage the workload and it’s good for business for not just you but all of your staff to take that break from the office.

 

 

 

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