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The importance of taking a holiday

In an interview about the anthemic Oasis track, The Importance of Being Idle, Noel Gallagher eloquently describes its origins: “A cross between The Kinks and The La’s. About being a lazy so and so. I spent a lot of last summer just sitting around the house doing nothing, really impressed by my lack of drive.” Now, we are not for a second suggesting that a lack of drive is something to be impressed by, especially as a self-starting entrepreneur, but there is much merit to be found in taking some time out from working to switch off and reconnect with yourself.

You deserve a break

Taking time out is important for your health and well-being. Over-working yourself can lead to burning out in the long run, as well as day-to-day anxiousness, stress, and subsequently lower productivity. A recent study found that the endless notifications we receive in our day-to-day and working lives are damaging to focus, efficiency and performance.

Be strategic in your timing

You need to take a break, but you also need to make sure that you choose the time you switch off wisely. Pick a time period where there will be less demand for your services.

Be realistic

If you are a small business, the likelihood is that it’ll be difficult for you to completely switch off from checking in on how your business is doing, so the best thing to do is restrict the times that you do check emails, speak to your team or liaise with customers, suppliers and accountants to a short check once a week. Judge the frequency for yourself, but be strict so you give yourself the chance to actually rest.

Structure and communication

Before you go off on your hols, it’s important that you let customers, clients and anyone you liaise with on a financial level know how long you’ll be away for and leave details such as where they can contact you in case of an emergency. To get to this stage, putting structures in place ahead of time will ensure that things can continue to run smoothly in your absence.

With all this in mind, here are some tools and apps to help you switch off:

1) Organising

The first step to prepping for your absence is planning the tasks that will need to be done in the run up to you going and whilst you’re away. Using task management tools, you can set clear deadlines, assign responsibility and monitor how different projects are progressing. Ideally, you want good collaborative tools that have some sort of functionality that allows you to comment on the progression of different tasks, and liaise with your team from afar.

Wunderlist allows you to create lists and collaborate effectively with your team. Omnifocus is a brilliant holistic tool that breaks tasks down in a variety of ways to help you prioritise and plot out different stages of your tasks and Asana allows you to add links and files to different tasks within the app (and from other apps too!). These apps will help you to communicate with colleagues on your designated check-in days.

Added to this should be finance apps that can help you schedule for any upcoming payments and monitor your accounts from afar – Quickbooks and Xero are two great tools you can try.

2) Staying afloat online

In addition to updating your site with information about your holiday and contact details, you want to be sure that your site remains up and running whilst you are away too. Uptime Robot is a tool that runs regular checks on your website to detect any problems, and sends you notifications if any issues are found. Another great website monitoring tool is Uptrends, which helps monitor issues with your website, on your server and any devices in your network, and again, sends you notifications if anything requires attention.

3) Communication and customer service

Following on from the above, the next step is to make sure that if you are going away, your customers can still expect some form of service from you. Desk.com is a tool that can help with just that – it ensures customer enquiries get to the right person in a timely manner. You can also use it to create self-service sites so customers can find the information they need quickly. Likewise the app has a ‘knowledge base’ for any colleagues and team members to refer to in your absence. Ahead of leaving, Caller 101 is a useful tool you can use. The app allows you to send out mass messages and records who has received them, so you can be sure that everyone knows of your whereabouts.

 

In short, holidays are good for your health, and completely feasible if you plan ahead. If you have any top tips for switching off, let us know over on Twitter @O2BusinessUK

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

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