In today's "always on" world, entrepreneurs often struggle with how to really unplug and step away. Not only can it be difficult to maintain day-to-day work-life balance but leaders also wrestle with deciding if, when, or how to take a vacation and step away from the office for an extended period of time.
At the company I work for, Porch.com, a home-improvement network, we have a very flexible vacation policy. Essentially, there is no vacation policy. As long as you are hitting your goals and getting your work done, you have the freedom to take time off when you need it. My team often hears from me about the importance of “putting life first”. This is not lip service to curb favor. Over the years I have found that individuals are far more productive and effective when they step away and think about the business through a different lens -- preferably a lens that occurs outside of the office.
If you are on the fence about taking a vacation (or think that your team cannot survive without you), here are three questions to ask yourself. The answers may prove out that you MUST take a vacation before the end of the summer if you want to ensure you and your team are positioned to deliver exceptional results for the remainder of the year.
Is your perspective tank full? If you never step away from the office and the day-to-day challenges you are trying to solve, you miss out on replenishing one of the most vital fuels for business success: perspective. Long-term planning, pragmatic solutions to long-running problems and understanding what really matters (vs. what you emotionally react to in the moment) are all solved and gained through having the right perspective. You will find that if you take a moment to pause, slow down and reflect, you will gain greater clarity for what’s ahead and what matters. Read some books, play some golf, walk on a beach or do some yoga. Take some “you” time. When you come back, your perspective tank will be full.
Team benefits: You will find that the guidance and leadership you provide is clearer, more precise, and more actionable when you get back.
Related: Can Your Business Live Without You?
How deep is your bench? When you step away and take a vacation you create an opportunity for others to step up. Who can you really rely on? Who has the horsepower to take on greater challenges and opportunities? Who resonates as a leader in your absence? This is important for those who are thinking about succession plans, and it is also a great way to scale your team for future growth. By finding out who you can rely on (in ways you may not have considered), you can essentially get more done when you get back.
Team benefits: You will find that people will be empowered and their confidence will go up. You may find that people are willing to step up and take on new challenges when before they would have not. You will also find that team members learn more when they work to solve problems in your absence.
Are you a corporate athlete? Throughout my career I have considered myself a “corporate athlete.” Always charging ahead, full of intensity, super focused on goals and ability to get stuff done. Real athletes have the same DNA. They also have one thing in common: They all take breaks during the game. Every great athlete uses half time to reassess their strategy and prepare for the rest of the game. What they learn makes them (and their team) poised to take on the rest of the game with renewed focus and passion. If you consider yourself a “corporate athlete” you would benefit from taking the same approach.
Team benefits: Whether it is an inspiring kickoff you give upon your return or a better understanding of the goals ahead, your team will thrive on your passion. Your renewed perspective can be contagious, and it will arm the team with the energy they need to take on the final months of the year with passion and dedication.