Small-business owners are notorious for burning the candle at both ends to get the job done, and this is often what determines the success or the failure of a new business. But this can also lead to heightened levels of stress, and possibly burnout if it continues for long periods of time. In fact, studies show that anxiety and stress – precursors to burnout – are higher in entrepreneurs than those in other types of careers. This is why taking a break is so important, especially for small-business owners.
We all know that it’s important to take breaks, but that can be easier said than done when it seems like you have the weight of your business on your shoulders. The good news is that it is entirely possible to walk away for a period of time without completely disconnecting, once you have a plan in place and are ready to use a few very powerful tools.
The Power of Delegation
The secret to successful delegation is being willing to share the information needed to get the job done, and then trusting that the other person has it covered. To step away from work, you need to have backup support in place so your business keeps on moving in your absence. In some cases, this may mean enlisting the help of an employee to pick up the slack. If you are a solopreneur, you can align yourself with a colleague and trade backup services for each other during off times. For example, if you are an attorney and will be out of touch for a week or more, you can ask a local peer to handle your client emergencies while you are on vacation, offering the same support to your colleague when he or she is away.
In either case, If delegation is new to you, do some trial run throughs so everyone involved is comfortable with their responsibilities before you hit the road.
Finding the Right “Break Balance”
Taking time away from work can mean different things to different people, at different times. Sometimes, you may just need a day to get back on track; sometimes you may want to opt for an extended vacation. In both cases, you can tailor your connectivity so that it works for you.
For example, when you take a day off, you may be comfortable disconnecting completely, since it will only be a few hours until you’re back in the office. If you take a longer vacation, you may want to stay connected so you know what’s going on, even if you’re not actively working. Choosing the level of connectivity that works for you before scheduling your time off will make it a much smoother (and less stressful) process. One of the things that works for me when I am balancing work and time off is setting aside an hour or two every day during vacation (usually before the rest of my family is awake or after they go to bed), to go through emails and get caught up on work. This allows me to stay connected to work while giving me the peace of mind I need to shut down my computer and leave my work phone behind for the rest of the day.
Must-Have Digital Tools
There are many different digital tools and apps that help you work from anywhere. These will make the difference between you taking time off and relaxing, and being worried that things are falling apart back at the office. Armed with a laptop, smartphone and/or tablet, it’s fairly easy to create a mobile office that allows you to stay connected from anywhere.
Some of my favorite on-the-road digital tools include Google Docs for file sharing, Evernote for note-taking and collaboration, Hootsuite for social media management and TeamViewer for accessing my desktop when I’m out of the office. Make a note of the digital tools you use most often in your work, and find apps that help you continue your work from the device of your choice.
The best way to ensure you take a break when you need it is to plan in advance, so set aside time on your calendar on a regular basis to get out of the office. Whether it’s a full-blown vacation or just a few hours away from work, it will be worth it for maintaining your health and the health and longevity of your business. If you’re still feeling the stress of running a business, try these 5 tips for preventing burnout to keep yourself on track.