Why aren’t you taking a vacation this year?

Sharing their lives with each other

As I write this, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to work out my schedule for the next few weeks and get everything done.

We’re going on vacation – and this summer for the first time in a very long time, we’re planning on taking 2 full weeks (According to Joe Robinson, only 14% of Americans take more than 1 week of vacation at a time and only 38% use the vacation they have coming to them…so I guess we’re in the fortunate minority).

We’ve always been good about taking time off, but it can be really difficult to find the way to make 2 full weeks work.  This year we decided to go all in…our kids are getting older and we decided it we wouldn’t have too many chances left to take a big trip like this.

I’m excited to go but it is challenging to figure out how to make it work…and I have the advantage of working for myself and having complete control over my calendar.  (Of course the downside to that is that I technically don’t ‘get’ any vacation time…if I’m not working, I’m not getting paid).  I’m saying ‘no’ to more than a few things, I’m cutting back or deferring on some income opportunities and I’m really scrambling the last couple of weeks before I go (and probably the week after I get back) to make everything work.

But it’s totally going to be worth it.

Not only is this going to be a great chance to spend time with my family but it’s going to really help me clear my head and ultimately make me a more creative leader. We will be gone for 2 weeks and we’re not going to be checking email or doing any work while we’re away…which again puts us in the minority – in 2013, 61% of U.S. vacationers planned on doing work while they were on vacation!

Here’s my question to you:

Are you and  your employees taking a real vacation this summer?

It doesn’t have to be 2 weeks at once, but it should at least be a pretty big chunk of days – and here’s why:

1. You’ll feel better.

Literally stress can kill you and if you don’t take real time off, it’s really difficult to alleviate that stress.

2. You’ll be more productive.

In fact you could be a lot more productive. GoHealthInsurance.com recently switched to an UNLIMITED vacation policy and saw productivity go up by 200%, Hubspot switched to a similar policy a couple of years ago and saw a significant spike in productivity as well.

Plus you just need the ‘white space’ in your life. Your ability to dream, create, come up with new ideas is 100% dependent on being able to stop thinking about all the fires and day to day issues.

3. Your business will operate more effectively.

Small businesses, by design and by necessity, tend to have a handful of ‘key’ employees (including the owner) who are the only people capable of doing the ‘critical business functions’. When those people go on vacation, someone else has to figure out how to get that work done.  And if you’re arguing that this is exactly why you discourage vacations, you’re making a huge mistake – what are you going to do when that person quits…or you get sick…at least with a planned vacation it’s only temporary and you’ll have time to figure out what’s needed and train for the right kinds of back up.

If it helps – think of your time off as a trial period to see how things really run without you. If you can successfully take 4 days off, then maybe next time you can shoot for a full week…or 10 days.  But unless you push the envelope and make it happen, you’re going to stay trapped by your business.

A very large percentage of business owners won’t take vacation…or they’ll squeeze in a day or two here or there but not really get away.  If that’s you – ask yourself what it would take to take a real vacation. You deserve one…and it will be good for you, both personally and professionally.

What do you think about getting away for vacations?  When’s the last good one that you took? Where you’d go? Was your business still standing when you came back? We’d love to hear about – leave us a comment below.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

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