Vacation mode: learn the value of shutting off

August is the month in which Portugal stops. But if it's easy for some to take their mind off work and relax, for others it can be a huge concern.

Photo of a beach with sunglasses on the sand

This is something that many entrepreneurs and startup founders are likely to relate to. Here's the scenario: It's summer, it's hot and everyone is planning their trips with family and friends. You too are wishing for some free time, yet you are feeling guilty for doing it because business is booming.

And all those meetings and tasks that still need to be done?

What about my coworkers who will be stuck without me?

Will my startup lose because I go on vacation?

Graph showing the performance of workers for each hour of vacation they have.

Here's the truth: nobody can be productive all the time. In fact, burnout can be an impediment to a small business' success. So taking time off from time to time is critically important, and studies prove it. An Ernst & Young study found that for every 10 additional hours of vacation employees took, their performance reviews were 8% higher the following year.

You've also probably noticed that every time you get back from vacation, you're rested, rejuvenated, and more excited to get back to work. Yes, rest is the secret sauce. And that doesn't mean your business will stop and your customers will be unhappy.

We will give you some tips on how to make it work:

#1. Add the vacation period to your Roadmap

Sounds obvious, doesn't it? But the truth is, many employees react rather than plan. In order to organize your work better, having a good and realistic roadmap is important. Be sure to count free time in project planning as this will avoid painful downtime, unforeseen events and missed milestones when team members aren't all working.

#2. Forecast needs

It’s not possible to make intelligent decisions about your team and your customers without a sense of what their needs will be and without being prepared for unexpected demand or unforeseen problems that must be solved. So, determine what your customers and your team might ask of you and leave a well-structured back-up plan.

#3. Review vacation requests in advance

Some of your employees will have vacations scheduled at the beginning of the year. Others will ask for a last-minute break. Determine how you will make these decisions. Create a plan and follow it, and set rules if necessary. This will be helpful so that all requests for time off are treated fairly and uniformly. Who can take a vacation? Is it first-come-first-served, like in the old days? Is there a need for at least 1 or 2 people to work in each department to ensure minimal operation? By determining these points, you will be able to better manage your company's vacation map.

#4. Anticipate urgent tasks

Another important point: keep in mind that the week before your vacation will be largely devoted to preparing for your vacation. That is, doing tasks that cannot be done by others and that minimize the work delegated to teammates. For example, emails that need to be sent. You can always leave them scheduled. As well as other tasks. Is your only designer going on a week's vacation? No problem. This means that no designs will be done during these days. If there is an important deadline, the designer can leave the essential work done in advance. Everything else can wait. With the relevant work upfront, your business can function with minimal disruption to everyone else's workflow.

#5. If necessary, delegate tasks and inform your co-workers in advance

First of all, you should prevent your tasks from being passed on to your colleagues. But sometimes there are tasks that cannot be done by you in advance or scheduled. Then you will need the support of your team. Make sure they have no problem with this and that they are well informed about what to do and how to proceed. This will prevent them from feeling anxious and your sunbathing from being interrupted with calls for help.

As you see, it's possible to take time for yourself. It's just a matter of planning and anticipating the need.

Make sure your team knows the importance of rest. Make them take their free time as seriously as their job. That way you won't lose the productivity and creativity that will drive the business forward.

Also read: Dream big: how to put your business idea into practice?