Taking time off from the business

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After taking a vacation, I had to come back in on Friday to do payroll and check on things. That was instead of staying on vacation for the second weekend. Someone suggested I try to take off for four weeks?? That’s crazy!! As the owner, and person ultimately in charge, how could I ever do that??!!

Thoughts of the Day: Entrepreneurs love their work, are committed to achieving success, want to do the right thing – and end up sabotaging themselves and their companies because they don’t take enough time off. Use your breaks as a way to give people in the company a chance to show you what they can do. By focusing on the wrong metric, entrepreneurs don’t encourage their employees to take enough time off, either. Building thriving companies is all about building in work-life balance, because of the other things good work-life balance causes those companies to build.

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It’s stressful and tiring to stay on point day after day. Changing the scenery can often translate into a change in perspective. Whether it’s overnight, a few days, a week, or months that you take off, stepping away gives you a chance to recharge your batteries. Even if you replace mental activity with a physical workout, that’s a well-needed break from the constant intellectual demands of business.

The human brain, when on point and trying to control and critically process information, gets tired. The brain needs breaks to help it stay on point. Look at getting away as a chance to assess priorities and adjust focus. Boost confidence, productivity and competence by letting go of those tightly held reins on the company.

Taking a holiday from work allows your brain to work differently. Often solutions bubble to the top when your attention is diverted and the pressure to focus on problems lets up. Those are the “aha” breakthrough moments that seem like gifts.

While you’re on R&R, your employees get a chance to perform without you. That’s a very good thing. Let them deal with problems, create solutions, and figure out how to keep things moving along productively.

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When you get back, assess what went well in your absence. If there were problems, resist the temptation to step in to fix things. Ask people to brainstorm with you to create the solutions that they can build to make things run more smoothly. Spend time on training and building processes and documentation that will help people get through challenges the next time you’re away. Then go away again to test the strength of those solutions.

Many business owners get trapped with time cards and tracking time off against time allowed. Think instead about encouraging employees to get away.

As you practice getting away from the business in order to gain perspective and refresh, think also about how valuable the same would be for your employees. They deal with the same pressing, time-sensitive challenges. As you unload, be careful that your employees don’t get more wrapped up in work, trying to meet new challenges and fill in the gaps your absences create. Consider company trips, company sponsored sabbaticals, and increasing time off.

Challenge employees to build their support networks, so they can get away more. Look for opportunities to increase loyalty and engagement by supporting employee work–life balance.

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The effort your brain puts into focusing on tasks and managing everything from productivity to emotions to relationships depletes precious energy reserves. Unless you take time out to rest and recharge, your control centers in the brain wear down. You have a choice – keep going and risk losing control to anger, depression and tension, or take short and long pleasure breaks to boost vitality and your ability to learn.

Looking for a good book? Try “Off Balance; Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction” by Matthew Kelly.

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