We all need a break from time to time. This is time to get your mind off work, to relax and spend time with your family (or friends) at home or in one of your favorite holiday spots. But taking some time off also needs preparation, especially in business where your responsibilities will be impacted while you are away.  Here is what you can do to prepare before you go on holidays.

At least a Month Before Your Break

Schedule your break in your calendar as soon as it’s agreed! Don’t go wasting your money on plane tickets and reservations but later found out that you have an important meeting or presentation scheduled during your holiday because you forgot to put it in the diary.

If you have important meetings or events that potentially conflict with your time off schedule once you finally get it sorted, see if you can have them rescheduled, declined, or have someone else attend on your behalf. People will understand if you give them enough notice. Often in business, you have limited opportunities to take a break so make sure you prioritise your time off.

And just as important, you need to notify in advance your colleagues and clients about your plans. Your notice may be in a form of email, phone call, or face-to-face conversation – make sure it’s followed up in writing. If you’re a very small business, you may also be able to pop a note on your website on your Contact Us page about availability. Chances are a lot of your colleagues and clients will be taking a break too, particularly if they have children.

Apart from the dates that you will be gone, it is also important to let them know the name and contact information of the person you are temporarily delegating your duties. And don’t forget to turn on your email autoresponder as well….and test it first!! If you are a one-person business, make arrangements to use a calling service to take messages for you during the period. You don’t have to keep taking calls whilst you’re on a break as long as people know that you are on a break.

A Week Before You Go on Leave

Confirm again with your colleagues that there will be enough coverage while you are away, or double-check your back up whilst you’re on leave is prepared. See that everyone is clear and in agreement as far as the duties that you will delegate to them. Prepare a checklist of things you need to do and complete prior to your time off. While you may delegate some of your duties, you should also need to be considerate and try to accomplish as much as you can before going on holidays. The rush at the end makes the break all the more relaxing when you know everything is squared away.

While it may be your personal time off and want to disconnect from work for a few days, there may be instances that people will need to get in contact with you. Set proper expectations as far your accessibility during that time, and don’t feel that you have to keep your phone on you at all times. If you will not be accessible at all while on holidays (e.g. destination has no internet access or phone coverage), you need to let your colleagues and clients know beforehand.

And speaking of getting disconnected from work while you are taking your personal time off, you may want to prepare some support documentation for tasks you are handing off, if possible. You may provide a process documentation or a walkthrough on the steps needed to complete any tasks, or provide contact information for your clients to your backup.

A Day Before You Leave

You will never get out of work when you want to so don’t put extra pressure on your last working day or day prior to travel. Check your to-do list and see that you will have all the priorities covered before you finish. You may not get everything done, but you will know what must be done prior to starting your holidays. Try not to take anything with you – if you plan right you should never need to.  Set your email autoresponder, speak to your backup and confirm they are ready to take over,  make sure that you include the name and contact details of the person who will be in charge of your responsibilities while you are gone.

If you own a farming Business

From my experience, there will never be a good time to go! But with some careful planning, you can get the holiday you need and deserve. There will be people you can hire to manage your farming business for shorter periods so consider putting out a notice for assistance, or bringing in a family member, friend or neighbour to help manage things. Find a period that you know you’re not going to be busy and commit to taking the time off, defining how many days you will take.

Allow yourself a week beforehand to prepare and make an action list of your tasks, as well as the responsibilities someone will have whilst you’re away. This may include daily feeding, farm checks, security (many people house-sit if you are concerned about leaving your house empty or leaving animals in kennels).

Use technology as a way of communicating if necessary. If you’re travelling overseas, keep costs down by using online communication tools such as WhatsApp or Messenger.

By planning well, taking these suggestions into account, you can take a well-earned break. You deserve it!