It came as no surprise to me that gazillions of studies exist about the benefits of taking a holiday. (Go on, Google ‘vacations make you more productive’ and you’ll see what I mean.) When people take a holiday, their overall health and satisfaction levels increase. The change of pace boosts creativity, refuels, gives you perspective, etc, etc. OK, let’s run with this.
Work-life balance is the key to how certain countries top the most productive list year-after-year. Luxembourg and Norway boast under 30 hours a week and regularly claim to “out-produce” the UK, all because they take holidays. In Denmark, where overtime is frowned upon, workers are likely to be considered disorganised* for staying a moment later than their allotted working hours.
Yeah, right, do I hear you say? And meanwhile in the real world, what about the downside of taking a holiday? All that preparation. It’s like planning a small military operation. And the nightmare when you return – immediately flattening your battery.
So many of us business-owners reckon holidays aren’t worth the stress. Packing and Paperwork, the Twin Peaks of Holiday Pain. Anyway, when everyone else is away en vacance it’s lovely and quiet – we’ll get so much done…
If this is you, you’re missing the point. Two points actually: 1. Even if you think you don’t need a break from work, work needs a break from you, which amounts to the same thing. You’re tired and it shows. 2. Nothing worthwhile is free from admin so why should your holiday be any different? (*Did you spot the earlier clue?)
I’m very fortunate. I come from a corporate background where you are expected to take time off. And I follow this philosophy through into my own business. Of course ‘normal service’ is paused while I’m away but catastrophe doesn’t befall my business and clients simply because I and my people take a break. (You know what’s coming, don’t you?)
In the corporate world, holidays are as much a part of working life as meetings. For about 6 weeks in the summer months they factor in that the working environment is going to be uneven. All big organisations expect this and smaller businesses can embrace the very same philosophy, including the freelancer and sole business owner.
So, if holidays are to be part of the business calendar – just like a two day international conference or a five day intense project – what must you have in place? You guessed it – processes.
Those who know me, will be familiar with my passion for processes that do more than get you from A-to-B with a sigh of relief at the end. Processes should be liberating, particularly during times of fluctuation, whether seasonal or economic.
Mapping out a process trains you to plan and think ahead, it also enables you to be agile and spontaneous. You can switch programmes or dial back on activity. Process will enable you to ‘upgrade’ yourself to a new model. How cool is that?!
So go on take a holiday, even if it’s just a long weekend. But, don’t go spoiling it by taking work with you. It will haunt you because you’ll leave it until the last day and, basically, ruin your holiday.
However, do expect to come back with a list of things to action. Or the solution to a problem. Time off allows your mind to roam freely too!
You’ll still have a few weeks of summer peace while other people take their holiday. Unless you holiday for the whole of August, in which case I take my Panama hat off to you!