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How to avoid holiday hell

How to avoid holiday hell


At well-past closing time, you’re staring at an inbox with emails that keep piling in. With only a day or less to go until your holiday, it seems like your “time-off” is going to be spent dodging phone calls from your employees during dinner time, and your beautiful beach or mountain view is actually just the background of your computer screen.

As an upcoming holiday approaches, there’s suddenly more work to do than before—unfinished projects, unclear chains of command and too many juggled frustrations. At any rate, dreams of sipping pina coladas from fresh coconuts are turning into pineapples pricking your fingers while you answer emails.

This is what we call last minute holiday limbo—where you struggle to find a way to make the costs of time-off worth the trouble. See if any of these sound familiar:

10 Things You Shouldn’t Do (but Probably Will) to have a ‘holiday’.

  1. Pretend you don’t actually need a holiday —that you’ll be working remotely instead, and spend your days getting sand in your computer while responding to emails (everybody loves a laptop tan line right?).
  2. Spend the days leading up to your holiday scrambling around the office trying to get your last-minute work done and end up staying late at the office every night.
  3. Leave scribbled notes ‘delegating’ unfinished tasks.
  4. Write a last-minute procedure of a routine that you’ve known for years, but no one else does and you never took the time to document.
  5. Spend the week before you go on holiday putting out fires and plan to immediately start putting fires out all over again as soon as you return.
  6. Make a mental (or actual) calculation of how much your absence while on holiday is going to cost your business in lost revenue.
  7. Distribute your emergency contact information to everyone in the office and spend the rest of your break getting emails prefaced with “Is this an emergency?” (Spoiler alert: it isn’t.)
  8. Take a week on your return to get to the bottom of the unread emails piled up in your inbox.
  9. Lose the beach volleyball tournament to those jerks from the hotel next door because you heard a ‘ping’ from your phone and you were SURE that this time it was a real emergency.
  10. Get hit with a tidal wave of highly charged and accusatory updates as you walk through the door on your return that all start with “So while you were on holiday…”

If you consistently feel the need to cram it all in, an upcoming holiday is likely to cause more pressure for you and your team. But a real, unplugged holiday might be the best thing for your business.

Deep down, you know that all the tasks piling up are tasks you shouldn’t be doing. They feel incredibly urgent—and like no one else can take care of them—but if you take some steps now to diagnose what’s really going wrong, you can look forward to a work-free holiday, and a business that can run (and succeed) without you.

To prevent the painful situations above from happening, consider this pre-Holiday checklist. It might be just what you need to make sure you can put your feet up and relax.

10 Steps to Ensure a Work-free Holiday.

  1. Be honest with your team and let them know why unplugging and taking a real holiday is important to you. It’s a way to lead by example—taking care of yourself.
  2. Time management is even more important in the run-up to your holiday, so plan your day—we suggest spending the first 30 minutes of your workday doing this.
  3. Use your weekly development meetings with your employees to clearly delegate responsibilities for ongoing tasks and daily operational work.
  4. Make a list of everything that happens in the week(s) running up to your holiday that either:
    • needs to be done as a direct consequence of you going on holiday (i.e. any employee/technician role you still fill)
    • needs to be done anyway but has a sense of unhealthy urgency because of your impending holiday. Which systems need improving?
  5. Sort out your reading list for the poolside—this is the time to reconnect with your vision and come back fired up for the next part of the year.
  6. Revisit your cash plan to make sure your day-to-day cash flow is stabilised. Have a budget meeting with your finance officer to set goals and track changes while you’re away.
  7. No news = good news—Designate a deputy who has your contact details, so they can contact you in the event of an emergency (make sure they know what qualifies).
  8. Set your ‘out of office message’ to direct people to your designated point of contact.
    • Pro tip: set it for one day before and one day after you actually return to work to give yourself time and space to deal with your team and other priorities.
  9. Unplug—remove your work accounts from your phone or take off the notifications. This will help to keep you from getting distracted.
  10. On your return, have a productive meeting with key employees where you catch up on what happened in your absence, so you know how to prepare them better next time.

Working through this checklist should help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your business. While taking time off can feel overwhelming, having a clear understanding of where your frustrations stem from and the time to think about them strategically can help you lead a better business.

Shared from E-Myth’s Nick Lawler. You can find the original post here

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