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As a decade-long entrepreneur, I’ve experienced that the start of the New Year often arrives with a paradoxical blend of anticipation and pressure. While it’s an ideal time for setting new goals and intentions, the thought of fully committing to the demands of operating a business with renewed habits can feel overwhelming.  Yet over time, I’ve realized that committing to better discipline around taking regular vacation as a business owner isn’t a luxury; it’s necessary for sustaining my creativity and productivity, and creating the headspace needed to enter the New Year with the right mindset and focus. I’ll share some tips to help you establish better habits while taking vacations as an entrepreneur in the New Year, so that when you return, you do so with more clarity and renewed energy.

The Importance of Taking a Break

The often intense pace of operating your own business rarely allows time for a break, but stepping away from it all – even if just for a few days – has many benefits. Mental health professionals emphasize the need for rest to prevent burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. Even a short break can act as a meaningful reset button, reducing stress and preventing burnout. As entrepreneurs, we are our best asset, so we need to nurture our own wellbeing the same way we nurture our business.

Personally, I know that time away from work can spark creativity. Changing your environment, slowing down, and seeing life through a different lens can help develop new perspectives and innovative ideas. There are physical benefits too. Rest helps the body recover from the cumulative effects of long-term stress, which is essential for boosting your longevity and overall happiness and wellbeing.

Committing To Your Break

The key to actually reaping the rewards of time off lies in truly taking time off. As an entrepreneur who may not be used to winding down and turning off, it’s critical to plan how you’ll do so during your break. Here are some tips I’ve learned to ensure your time off is truly restorative:

Set Clear Boundaries

Make sure your team, clients, and partners know you’ll be on vacation and be transparent about your availability. If you’re planning to check emails and calls for 1 hour each day, let people know that you’ll only be available during those specific times to avoid interruptions during your vacation. Don’t forget to set an out-of-office auto-reply for emails and to nominate a team member (including their contact info in your auto-reply) who can support day-to-day operations while you’re away.

Digital Detox

It may be tempting to check your email while on the beach or during a meal with loved ones. To avoid slipping into work mode and losing the ability to be present, be intentional about disconnecting. This might involve turning off email notifications or even deleting work apps from your phone temporarily.

Create a Loose Time-Off Agenda

Planning activities like a massage, engaging in a hobby, spending uninterrupted time with loved ones, or just resting can help you unwind and ease into time-off mode. It’s also helpful to use quiet moments to reflect on personal and professional milestones and areas for growth.

Plan for Your Return

The anxiety of returning from vacation, with the challenge of catching up on a backlog of emails and new work developments, can be daunting. Ease back into work by time-blocking a few hours on your first day back to address emails and top priority calls. Avoid diving head-first back into work; start with a light schedule and gradually work your way back to your usual pace.

Taking a break as an entrepreneur isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s an essential part of creating a sustainable business and protecting your wellbeing. This New Year, commit to regular vacation and better time off habits.  Your business – and your body – will thank you.