When you own your own business, taking time off can be tricky. You want to be the “go to” person for your clients; the one who is always there for them, at the ready to solve whatever problem they may have. You don’t want to miss calls from potential new customers; and announcing that you’re on vacation makes you look like a slacker, even if it’s the first holiday you’ve taken in a decade. The solution? Taking a vacation without anybody knowing you’re taking a vacation. Here’s how:
Enter your complete vacation itinerary in your calendar – when you’ll be driving, waiting at an airport, or taking snorkeling lessons. If it’s a family vacation, try to book activities in advance for the kids too. Add in time for meals and even when the kids are likely to go to bed.
Start working around the time you’re going to be away now. Add the two weeks to any deadlines you need and delay the start time of any projects until after you’re back, because you now have “a previous commitment” for that time period.
Engage others to cover for you
If you have any employees, get them involved in what you usually take care of yourself a few weeks ahead of your time off. Introduce them to clients noting they are familiar with the client’s account and can take care of things “if you’re ever unavailable.”
If you’re an independent or work in a small office, consider hiring an answering service that can take calls and screen emails, so you’re only contacted with urgencies. (If you use your cell as your main work number, forward that number to the answering service and buy a burner for the service to reach you.)
Save documents that you might need for active clients or projects to a cloud-based storage site, so you can access them if something goes awry while you’re away. Google Drive offers 15 GB of free storage to use across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos, where you can also save your vacation photos.
Create an auto-response email simply saying that you will be out of the office with limited access to email over the period and will respond as soon as you’re able. If you have an employee or trusted associate who offers a similar service, you can provide their contact info.
Change your voice mail message to something similar. “I’ll be on the road until July 10th and may not have reliable cell service. Please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can.”
Ready? Go stealth!
The most important thing to remember is that you are actually on vacation. You need time to rest and rejuvenate, and to enjoy the company of your family and friends. You don’t have to answer the phone when it rings or check your email every half hour – if you were busy at work, they’d have to wait a while anyway. Check your messages once during work days and only deal with truly important urgencies. You’ll come back refreshed and maybe even a little disappointed that no one realized you’d been gone!