Take a break, stay in controlWith the summer school holidays just passed, I want to ask, did you take a break from work?

If so, now is a good time to look at what worked and what didn’t. Did you feel both relaxed on holiday and still in control of your business?

If you didn’t take a break, or you didn’t relax while on your break, now is a good time to talk about how to take your leave and still keep your business running.

There are a few things to consider. The first of these is timing. Before you lock in your holiday, take a look at the patterns in your business. When is your peak season? And when is it quieter? Perhaps school holidays find your ideal clients concentrating on things other than getting organised, but when school goes back you are flooded with enquiries. Or perhaps winter is your quietest period. I know that Spring is my busiest season, but that didn’t stop me from taking a month-long holiday. I just made sure to plan around it.

The next point to think about is: How long do you want to be away from your business? There’s a big difference between a week away, where you can easily reschedule regular clients or six weeks for the trip of a lifetime. But both are possible with proper planning.

Either way, you need to have a plan for how to handle:

  • new enquiries,
  • phone calls,
  • emails,
  • and emergencies.

For a simple week away, there’s no need to announce your absence ahead of time, except to any clients you already had booked, of course. If you are returning to your desk within a week, most people will be willing to wait for a response from you. A voicemail greeting explaining when you’ll return calls, and an auto response to incoming emails outlining expectations, are acceptable and easy to manage.

For a short stint, you may choose a policy of replying to new enquiries while they are “hot”. Or you could turn your phone off entirely and enjoy your holiday.

Now what about emergencies? Thankfully, there are very few of those in organising. However, if your clients have access to online content and they can’t log in, that’s an emergency I’d like to deal with swiftly. Who will be the person to respond? You? Or someone you deputise? It could be a colleague, or your tech expert, or a competent and well-trained VA (virtual assistant).

A good VA is well placed to step in to handle any new enquiries, phone calls, email and emergencies in a longer absence. I’d recommend a brief weekly check in or reporting strategy to give you peace of mind, and your VA clear onward instructions. Let them chase overdue invoices, book new clients, keep your inbox clutter free, and your clients feeling loved.

What about marketing? Do you put it on hold or schedule ahead of time? That really depends on how long you’ll be away, and the impact of your decision on your future bottom line. Experts say that the marketing you do now generally brings results in three months. Can your bottom line cope with a lull in enquiries in three months’ time? Again, a VA could come in handy here. Keep in mind that marketing on socials is most valuable when there is engagement and interaction. Unless you, or someone you nominate, is willing to jump into comments and engage with readers, a blast of social media marketing is of little use.

When I had my month in Venice, I was deliberate in my choices. I chose to visit Venice during my busiest season. I chose to step away from my marketing. There were no weekly blogs, no weekly Facebook Lives, no weekly newsletters, and no social media marketing. I chose to handle all the new enquiries, phone calls, emails and emergencies myself. The impact on my time was minimal. I kept my inbox clutter free by creating an email folder entitled “When I Get Home” and dealt with them when I returned to my desk.

On that subject, I recommend you resist the temptation to fill the weeks either side of your time away with appointments and commitments. You don’t want to feel stressed in the lead up to your holiday, and you don’t want to lose that holiday glow once you’re back.

You can read about how other professional organisers organise their annual leave here.

Next time you take a break, I wish you all the time you need to relax, restore and revive, so that you can keep running your organising business for years to come.


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