I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my business’s processes over the past month or so and one of the issues I have encountered in the past is taking holidays.
I’m sure most small business owners can identify with the whole ‘switching off’ thing. I find it difficult to leave work behind, knowing that I’ve got emails and enquiries coming in all the time.
One solution would be to hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) to look after my email inbox and answer my calls while I’m away, dealing with non-technical enquiries, informing clients that I’ll be a little later than normal in getting back to them, and contacting me if someone requires immediate attention.
A VA may eventually be a necessary arm of my business, but at the moment it’s not something I need.
Another option would be to completely disconnect, set up auto-responders to let enquirers know when I’ll be back in the office and deal with things when I return to work.
Sounds nice– I’m fairly comfortable with all-or-nothing approaches and I wouldn’t have too much of an issue, at a personal level, with going cold-turkey for a week or fortnight.
Clients themselves are often very happy to hang on that week or two to have their question answered as things are seldom urgent.
But that’s the issue. Every now and then—however rare—a client has an urgent request. I have to be ready to help them deal with any problems on their server or something else that might be beyond their technical expertise, so switching off entirely would be irresponsible.
Taking my laptop
My office is a co-working space and has been for the past year or so. I’m therefore very used to working from my laptop.
So it makes sense to me to just take my laptop on holiday with me so that I could get a little bit of work done each day (perhaps an hour or two from a café over breakfast) and then get on with taking a well-deserved break.
Although the laptop I use is a very portable 13 inches, it still takes up space and weight in my hand-luggage. And it’s not always easy to work from (on the plane, etc.).
Aside from that, experience has taught me that it does too much. I end up getting my head buried in code and, before I know it, half a day has disappeared! There is a downside to loving what you do for a living, it would seem!
What I’ve decided to do is to leave my laptop behind, and that’s where an iPad comes in!
The other morning, the Retina iPad Mini I ordered a few days before was delivered to my office.
The advantages, beyond its ultra-portability (200mm x 134.7mm x 7.5mm and only 331g) are that I can keep on top of my emails, to-do list, social media, write blog posts, etc. while I’m away. I can even make an emergency amendment to some code, though the capabilities of code-editing software for iPad is pretty limited, so it this would only be in extreme circumstances.
There’ll be no nasty surprises or thousands of emails waiting for me when I get back (and therefore no Schrödinger’s cat style apprehension), and clients with issues that need dealing with right away will be looked after.
What do you do?
How do you deal with time-off in your business? Do you outsource, switch off completely or carry on working? I’d love to know in the comments below.