If you are a like a lot of business owners, taking time off can slip so far down your to-do list that you look up in August and realize you've forgotten it completely. But there is still time to take a last-minute trip this summer. Here is some of our best expert advice for how to make the most of your summer vacation, from how to prepare for your trip before you go to unplugging while you're gone and how to readjust when you get back.
To prepare before you leave:
Re-set your body clock before taking off. "Try to advance or delay your sleep a few days before going away so that when you leave your circadian clock has already started to adjust to the change," says Vancouver-based naturopathic doctor Melanie DesChâtelets. Advancing your bedtime by an hour or two if heading east, and delaying if heading west can help you adjust to the new time zone easier and have you falling asleep faster.
Read More: 6 Ways to Reduce Jet Lag Naturally
Set up clear systems for employees to follow.
Brian Miller, the chief operating officer of AdviCoach, a provider of business coaching to small companies says business owners often struggle to unplug because they worry about the day-to-day operations like keeping the books and counting the cash registers at night. He suggests you "franchisitize" your business by following the example of franchises and creating an efficient operating system that employees can easily follow while you're away. Create a document that outlines exactly what to do across a range of scenarios, so employees can take action on their own. "The general rule is that 95 percent of the time the workers should be able to figure out a solution without consulting the owner," he says.
Read More: 5 Steps to a Stress-Free Summer Vacation
To stay on top of work while you are away:
Set aside a specific time each day when you will check in with the office.
Aside from that pre-determined time, let go of work.
Read More: Most Americans Work While on Vacation, Report Finds
Arrange to stay connected ahead of time if you are traveling outside of the country. Before you leave, purchase a Skype number (starting at $6 a month for three months) and forward your incoming calls to your Skype number. Calls from Skype to other Skype accounts are free, regardless of location. However, there's a fee for calling mobile or landline phones. Purchase Skype credits in advance (they never expire) or, if you're going to be out of the country for several weeks, consider getting a one month subscription for the country/countries you'll be visiting.
Read More: How to Save Money When You Can't Unplug on an Overseas Vacation
To ease the transition back:
Tackle email in batches. Decide how much time you can devote to email and break it up over a few days. "Many people have the impression that email is work, but real tasks are more important," says David Troy, CEO of 410Labs, a Baltimore, Md.-based tech firm that designs software to increase productivity. You'll get through your emails quicker if you sort by sender instead of by date. This will help you find and tackle important client emails first. Troy says to also prioritize one-off messages over conversation threads because it might indicate a fresh inquiry from a potential client. And if you subscribe to daily mailing lists such as deal-of-the-day or news sites, quickly batch and delete old emails that are no longer relevant.
Read More: Taming Your Post-Vacation Inbox
Take two-minute mini-vacations. It's just as important to ease back into your work routine as it is to pace yourself when returning to the gym after a few weeks off. "When you go on vacation, you're changing your pace," says Toronto-based business and life coach Joshua Zuchter. Taking short breaks throughout the day to clear your head or go for a short walk can make the transition to your work routine less aggressive. "Otherwise, whatever [stress-relief] you gained from your vacation is lost in the first day," says Zuchter.
Read More: How to Maintain Your Post-Vacation Bliss