How to give yourself a proper holiday from work

For weeks now I’ve been anticipating the school break-up with a healthy dose of excitement but also a triple measure of trepidation.

Week one is now down, and I can give myself a few gold stars for managing the kids’ activities and squeezing work in alongside – but how long can I keep it up? When I decided to start my own business I made the decision that I would work around the kids and be with them each holiday. My heart is still there, but business has grown, meaning I have to become quite the superhero to juggle, entertain, deliver and not let a ball drop!

I am not alone in my quest to do it all. I know many other small business owners who face similar challenges, and finding the balance between life and work can seem unachievable. With summer upon us and the temptation of sun, sea, sand and some well-deserved time out, many small business owners are having to pull the shutters down and just keep going.

The importance of holidays cannot be emphasised enough. I know even in employed positions it can be hard to take all allocated holidays, but when you work for yourself it’s even harder to give yourself time out – because who will pick up the work when you’re away?

This summer I’ve tried to plan ahead and create a system which helps me keep the balls in the air whilst allowing me to enjoy the time away from work without building my stress levels and letting clients down:

* 1. Communicate: Understand from my prospects and clients what they need delivering and by when. Manage their expectations regarding my availability and give them specific times when I’m available.

* 2. Plan ahead: Schedule activities around my time off; parking tasks that don’t need to be looked at until September and making notes and systems which allow me to pick up the tasks from where I left off.

* 3. Prioritise: Identify critical tasks that require my attention throughout the holidays and schedule manageable milestones and deadlines well in advance of going on leave.

* 4. Delegate: Bring in a partner to deputise on particular activities which ensure my business can continue when I’m not there.

* 5. Have a contingency plan: Make sure I think about the risks and challenges and identify solutions before they arise.

* 6. Take time: Ensure I don’t burn myself out being super-mum and business owner and get some rest and time for me. Needing a holiday when I return to full-time work in September is not an option!

No matter what business you’re in, my six-point plan above can be applied to ensure you get some time off; whether it’s juggling a family, a hobby or just getting some well-deserved rest, taking time out of work is essential for maintaining energy levels, creativity, mental health and relationships.

Don’t be one of the 50% of individuals in the UK who sacrifice their holidays each year for the daily grind. Get strategic, and take a break!