6 tips for startups and entrepreneurs: give it a break, already. Mike | August 9th, 2010

I left early this morning for the first “real” vacation I have had in over a year and I am looking forward to eating lobster rolls in Maine (hear me, Jeff?) and pouring real maple syrup on my pancakes in Vermont. For entrepreneurs, it is critical to find time periodically to get away, recharge the batteries, re-boot the mind, and, most of all, STOP THINKING ABOUT THE BUSINESS FOR 5 MINUTES ALREADY, WILL YA?

I find that I can think more clearly, work more efficiently, communicate more comprehensibly if I can get away even for a few days every so often. Not to mention the benefits to my family life, my love affair with my wife, and my relationship with my colleagues. I can truly be a bear when I need a break.

Here are 6 tips for planning your next getaway; I hope they help to inspire your own journey and that they provide a strategy you can use.

1. Carve it out and let nothing come between.

A common mistake that entrepreneurs make is to wait until the last minute to start planning their vacation. You’ll need to figure out the “where”, but  first do the practical thing and nail down the “when.” Get thinking about it at least a month or two in advance. Talk to your partner and team members. Discuss it with your spouse. Most important? Put it on the calendar and block out those days so nothing important gets scheduled during your special time.

2. Plan ahead (and stick to it).

Where you will go is the tricky part. Some of us like holidays that are all about staying busy with things to do, people to play with, and activities galore. Then there are those of us who dream only of the beach in those Corona commercials. Whatever your pleasure, you should not wait until the last minute to try to plan something. Book in advance, get your deposits down, start working on that base-layer tan, lose a few pounds for the beach, get your reading list together, make your reservations, but please don’t wait until 2 days before you want to leave or disappointment will be your new best friend. In our world, vacations are so rare and precious that you absolutely want to make sure yours comes true.

3. Read a f#¢&ing book.

Read books, eat great food, go to the movies. As startup founders, these are the things that we sometimes forget exist in life. Vacation is the time for us to re-learn these simple pleasures and a time to enjoy all of the things we deny ourselves during the rest of the working year. Who has time to read just for the pleasure of it? How many movies have you missed seeing this year? And wouldn’t it be nice to have a conversation about that great meal you had last week? Well, use your vacation time to take advantage of all the riches life offers that we often forget even exist.

4. Get lots of rest.

Sleep in. Take a nap in a hammock. Snooze on the beach. Siesta time is the best-a time. ‘Nuf said.

5. Stay out of touch.

Be disciplined, friend. Do not let the temptation of email and its siren song lure your vacation to certain tragedy on the rocky shores. Do not check the website “just to make sure it’s working.” And only answer the phone if the caller ID indicates that it is a non-work call. My suggestion is that you have the office text you with a pre-determnined code word if (and only if) it is a dire emergency that no one else can handle. As if there is anything in life that no one else can handle.

6. Come back intact.

Remember, as wonderful as vacation is, please be careful not to injure yourself. People are counting on you to pick up where you left off when you return to work. So, no running and no horseplay by the pool. Keep it safe, ok?

That’s it. By the time this post goes live, I will be on the way to ORD, destination undisclosed (well, not really undisclosed as I left some pretty strong hints in the first paragraph). Bon Voyage!

Photo: advertisingelyse

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  • Leela

    Welcome to Maine! I hope you do more than eat a lobster roll–go for a walk, go out on a lobster boat, hike Acadia, talk to the people, visit a farmer’s market. And go to the grocery store early–we roll up the sidewalks at night. 🙂

    Thanks for this post. It’s so true. If we don’t know how to stop, we have no idea how to start. A writer I once knew said that there is no writer’s block, just fallow times and fertile times. They are equally important.

  • Jeff

    I agree

  • Learn2screenprint

    What a great post!! Just starting my own business in the past few months I have been working in the thick of it 24-7. It is so good to know that it is OK to take time out. Inspired by this I am going to schedule in my diary some time for a few short get ways before the end of the year…

  • Gaby

    Good reminders. Anyone who believes they can't take a break from work is either suffering from self-importance or they haven't trained their team well enough. I have never taken my laptop on vacation…never.

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