Coaching and consultancy for business owners


Holidays without guilt or fear

Holidays without guilt or fear

How long since you had a decent holiday? By decent, we mean a holiday where you aren’t constantly monitoring your phone and inbox. Running a successful business and taking regular breaks aren’t mutually exclusive. With planning, you can do both.

School holidays are just around the corner, again. Maybe you’d love to stop work to spend time with the kids because they’re growing up so damn fast, but you’re afraid the business will fall apart while you’re away.

This is a situation we hear about all too often. Too busy in the business to take a holiday. You’re overworked, over-stressed and, well, just over it. We have a fix. Keep reading.

Start planning early

The sooner you start planning your escape, the less anxiety you’ll feel on holiday. Attack the task in a calm and orderly manner at least eight weeks before your departure date. Leaving it until the day before you leave is asking for trouble.

Also – think about your holiday as the start of changing your business, so it’s less dependent on you permanently. We often use holidays as a test case to make permanent changes in clients’ businesses.

Turn your excuses into a ‘to do’ list

What excuses are you using for not taking time off? “I’ll lose customers”, “I need to do payroll”, “the place would stop working without me”, “I’ll miss new sales”. We’ve heard them all, but we don’t accept them. Instead of coming up with excuses, we ask our business coaching clients to do some crystal ball gazing. It goes like this:

  • Think of all the things you would usually do during the days you want to be away
  • Work through each day of the week, every hour of the day
  • Develop a comprehensive list of tasks (or a spreadsheet, if you’re that way inclined)
  • Delete anything that can truly wait until you’re back

Delegate or outsource every item on your list

Next step is to put a name next to each task, ideally an employee. If there’s no one in your team who could take on the task, find someone you can outsource to.

Most of the time, each item on your task list can be entrusted to a member of your team. You might need to do some ‘spot training’, but we guarantee it will be worth it. Many skill sets are upgraded simply to make the boss’s holiday happen. Holidays are catalysts for change.

Create a master plan that everyone can see

Once you’ve delegated tasks to specific people, make sure everybody knows. You don’t want Jim trying to do Bob’s jobs, or Sally stealing Wendy’s jobs. Create a master plan that shows who’s owning every task while you’re away. One chef for every dish.

When you return, don’t revert to the default

In our experience, employees enjoy stepping up to the mark and taking on new responsibilities. So if you want more time for planning and thinking when you return, tell them to keep their holiday tasks. Otherwise, they’ll revert to the default level, and you’ll end up doing everything again. If Gary nailed it while you were sunning yourself in Fiji, he’d continue to nail it when you return.

Give existing clients the heads up

If you’re planning to be away during September, tell existing clients in July. Then you’ll have August to deal with stuff that needs to be done. And let them know who from your team can help while you’re away. Clients are people too. They understand that holidays need to happen.

Get your auto-reply right

When setting the auto reply on your email, make it useful. Provide the dates you’re away and a list of people (with email addresses and phone numbers) who can help with every type of enquiry.

Name a gatekeeper for emergency contact

If there’s a true emergency while you’re away, someone will need to know how to reach you. And that person needs to understand what constitutes an emergency. Call this person your ‘gatekeeper’. They need to understand how you think, which could mean a couple of hours running through every possible emergency scenario and coming up with solutions (preferably solutions that don’t involve disturbing your holiday!). Give this person one never-fail way to contact you. For example, you can promise to check emails once a day at 5 pm.

Want a coaching session to improve your delegation skills? Call Mark on (04) 473 3827 or email

Find out more about Red Hot business coaching.


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