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Working on holiday?

Are we all mad? Clearly, yes.

Two thirds of business leaders have admitted that they check their work emails while on holiday and three quarters have taken or made a work call, according to a new survey (2018) into summer working habits by The Institute of Leadership & Management.

The Institute’s new research found that 65 per cent of respondents check their work emails at some point while on holiday, and 75 per cent have said they’ve taken or made a work call while on leave. Unsurprisingly, most senior leadership teams check their emails on holiday (81 per cent).

But what happens if you run your own small business and you are both "boss" and most or all of the "staff"?

Personally, as I enjoy a two-week holiday (rather than a one-week holiday - the first for 10 years or so), I feel that it is unrealistic to down tools completely for that length of time. That said, burnout out is now a major issue for small business owners. So, how should you approach the holiday-work issue? These are my thoughts:

  1. Don't be a martyr No one will be impressed that you've spent all your holiday working. Your clients won't care - they just want their work done. Your significant other ("SO") who has been looking forward to the holiday for months or even years will care.
  2. Plan You probably booked your holiday some time ago. Your workload may vary but more often than not the schedules have some predictability and flexibility. If you need to be put in some extra time before you go away to get things done or shift work around, do it. When you are working on holiday, be clear and focused on what you really have to do, how long it will take and what resources you need (Wifi, laptop, printer, access to staff, client availability, etc.)
  3. Be honest If some work is unavoidable, then discuss it with your SO and agree some working time that suits everyone. Warn your clients that you will be on holiday and generally (totally) unavailable.
  4. Put your gadgets down and don't sneakily check your email while your reading the newspaper on your iPad.
  5. Use software Put an "Out of Office" on your email. Use filtering tools such as SaneBox to move emails away from your inbox so you are less tempted to check them.
  6. Use people If you have staff, make sure they know when and how they can contact you and what you mean by "absolutely necessary". Tell clients how to contact your staff. If you have no staff, then can you outsource temporarily? At the very least, use a call answering service.
  7. Enjoy the work you do You may find that you have some time available to catch up on some work-related things that are normally pushed to one side by client work. Writing a blog, for example, reading the stack of business books, thinking (yes, thinking - thinking about your business and how it fits in with your life).
  8. Relax You are on holiday. Some R&R will make you more productive in the long run.

Am I following my own advice? Yes - for once. If you are on holiday now or in the near future, relax and have some fun. You and your family deserve it!