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A Clean Getaway

Excuse me, but why are you working yourself to death? You need to get outta town.

Your home office is abuzz. Orders are piling up. Assignments are coming in. Customers are calling, faxing and e-mailing you for information; they want their questions answered now.

Is this any time to take a vacation?

Probably not. Homebased entrepreneurs are rarely able to drop everything and take time off to revitalize themselves unless they've done some serious planning. You know customers have to be attended to and feel you're the one who does that best. You worry that the loose ends you don't tie up will have become knots by the time you return--or that something much worse will happen. "People have an overwhelming fear that when they return from vacation, their business won't be there," says Stacy Brice, president of AssistU, a Cockeysville, Maryland, homebased business that trains assistants virtually.

Maybe it's time to plan for what Susan Pilgrim, author of Living InSync (Health Communications Inc.), calls the "three R vacation": time off to renew, refresh and relax. Pilgrim, president of Life Investments, an Atlanta consulting firm that helps people balance their business and personal lives, says people who run businesses from home often work 14 to 16 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week. "This kind of pressure is bound to make anyone feel burned out, and that diminishes what you can give to your customers," she says.

Despite your need for a vacation, planning for your absence is difficult--even for Pilgrim, who readily admits, "After all these years, it's still a challenge."

Patricia Schiff Estess is author of Money Advice for Your Successful Remarriage and Kids, Money & Values (both published by Betterway) and president of Working Families Inc., a Manhattan firm specializing in family memoirs.

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