|On Monday morning not too long ago, I braced myself for a|
deluge of email. I had not switched on my computer for three
days and just knew I would have a couple of hundred emails.
I was wrong. There were 486.
That afternoon, our postal carrier left a basket of mail
that must have weighed a couple of pounds.
'I need a vacation,' I muttered to myself. But that was the
problem. Monday was my first day back from one, and I vowed
I would never take another.
I eventually came to my senses, but I still tend to think of
time away from business with a mix of excitement and dread.
And those feelings are looming large right now as I
anticipate my daughter's holiday break from school - which
this year, lasts for three long weeks.
The December holidays were one of the reasons I opted for a
work-at-home lifestyle. When I worked outside the home as a
corporate event planner, our first big convention of the
year always occurred the second week of January. This meant
I had to work 10 hours a day, six days a week each December
(although I got Christmas and New Year off). I resented the
fact that everyone else was home decorating the house and
baking goodies, and vowed to be able to do that one day. Now
that I'm a home based entrepreneur, I can keep that promise
But as a one-person shop, I need to take steps to insure
that my business will still be here after the decorations
have been put away. Imagine the orders, customer service
calls and income opportunities we miss by being away from
our posts for a couple of weeks!
The fortunate thing about a December break is that most of
the Western world is occupied with the same things: holiday
get-togethers, family activities and religious observance.
All business slows down mid-December as people focus on
their faith and families. The exception, of course, is
Christmas shopping. If your business involves selling gift
items, you may not get a holiday break until December 25. If
that's the case, I suggest taking at least the week off
between Christmas and New Year. A vacation - even a short
one - will allow you to recharge your mental batteries,
resulting in increased energy and creativity on January 2. It
will also help you avoid the feelings of resentment I
experienced at that event planning job.
The trick to taking the time you need and starting back up
smoothly is in how you prepare your business for your
absence. Here are some tips:
1. COMMUNICATION IS KEY
No matter when you begin your holiday break, you need to let
your clients know. Two weeks before any vacation, Angela
Strosnider of Virtual Office and Business Solutions
announces it to her clients, relatives and others. 'I take
the laptop and check for any emergency mails as well.
Besides that I make an autorespond message to all emails
about when I'll return,' she says.
You need to communicate with your customers when you get
back as well, especially when email replies have been
delayed for a few days due to your absence. 'People are
understanding if you offer a reason for the long wait,' says
Terri Seymour of < http://www.websuccesscentral.com >
2. GIVE YOURSELF A WINDOW TO CATCH UP
'I've always thought that I should extend my vacation by two
days when telling others,' says Roberta Stubblefield of The
Mom Team < http://RobertaS.themomteam.com > 'That way I can
use the two days to catch up on everything with the
answering machine on, then be ready to start out fresh.'
3. CONSIDER HIRING A BACKUP
A virtual assistant could be the answer to your vacation
prayers, notes Kristie Lemauga, who happens to be the VA at
< http://www.kksadministrative.com > Kristie suggests that
by forwarding your email to a live person instead of using
an autoresponder, your customers can have their needs
handled in a personal manner. Kristie says that A VA can
also 'process any orders, info requests, data entry, and
unsubscribes while you are away, take phone calls for your
business, prepare your calender for your return, and assist
with administrative tasks ... so you can catch up in the
areas that require your personal attention.'
4. MAKE A PLAYDATE FOR THE KIDS
As much as we love our children (and for many of us, they
are the reason we are working at home in the first place),
they can also be a distraction. You'll catch up faster upon
your return if they're having fun outside the house. Terri
Seymour arranges an overnight visit with their grandparents,
but taking them to a playdate at the home of a trusted
friend may give you all the time you need to focus on your
work. (Just be sure your friend knows you'll return the
5. ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY!
Remember that you need your break! Bake those cookies -
enjoy the parties - build a snowman with your kids and warm
yourselves up next to a roaring fire. As Angela Strosnider
says, 'Working at home is a 24/7 job just like any other
when you add a house and family. Take a personal time-out
with you and your loved ones, and you will feel much better
about working so much later.'
About the Author
Donna Schwartz Mills is the work-at-home parent behind the
ParentPreneur Club: http://parentpreneurclub.com/cgi-bin/art/vc
Donna also edits NOBOSS Online, the newsletter for home-based entrepreneurs
doing business on the web. To subscribe, send a blank email
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