How to Take Time Off as a CEO

As business owners, we often feel because we are responsible for so much in our business, we can’t ever go out of office. If we do, the whole business will burn down, right?! 

Trust me, as someone who is still working on this, I know it can be scary as a business owner to remove yourself from the day-to-day operations. But let me ask you a question…

Why did you start your business?

Probably to make an impact, an income, and a life you love. You wanted free time to do the things you enjoy.

However, I’ve been finding that we get so sucked into our responsibilities as a business owner that we think we can’t take the time off that we need or want. I was listening to an entrepreneurial podcast recently where one of the speakers made a great point: Sometimes as business owners, we end up becoming the worst boss we’ve ever had. 

SO. TRUE. 

Let’s stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to be “on” all of the time. Yes, we want to run our business well, serve our clients well, and see results, but we have to remember that our clients are not our bosses, and we are not their employees. We’re not required to respond left and right, all day every day.

There’s a way to take time off that feels good for you and still works for the clients and your team members.

Here’s how to set everyone up for SUCCESS when you go out of office: 

1. Determine when you want or need to go out of office.

Then, you need to set up a clear process within your team and with your clients. 

If you’re a party of one with no team members, nothing’s going to get done (unless it’s automated), and that’s okay! The world isn’t going to crumble. You can still take time off and enjoy it if you set yourself up well.

2. Delegate Tasks

Everyone needs to know what is happening and what isn’t happening when you, the CEO, are out of office. This includes:

  • Delegating the right tasks to the right people
  • Making sure they have access to training videos and resources they need to get those tasks done

3. Will anyone on the team be client-facing while you’re gone?

If a client has a question, where or who do they go to? Questions do come up, so make sure this portion is crystal clear as possible. 

4. Email your clients.

Send out an email to your clients at least two weeks ahead of time, if you can. Let them know which team member they can contact, if you decide to have someone client-facing. If you’re not going to have someone communicating with clients, or if you’re a solopreneur, give your clients a specific date for when they need to have tasks completed before you go out-of-office. 

You can also give them a notice for task requests, so if there’s anything they want done before you leave, they know when they need to submit it so you have enough time to finish. Or, maybe you do accept task requests while you’re gone and you have someone manage that for you. If that’s the case, let them know who that person is!

6. Communicate who is doing what

Tell your clients who is doing what on your team so they know the in-progress or already requested tasks are getting worked on behind the scenes. 

7. Remind everyone

Send a reminder email to everyone a couple of days before your out of office dates. 

8. This is the kicker

This is where a lot of times things don’t go so well…. You HAVE to respect your own boundaries. I’m kind of bad at this sometimes, too because I get it. We want to check in, see how things are going, respond to a few emails, do a few tasks here and there. But here’s why you need to restrain yourself…

When you say you’re out of office, set all these expectations, and still show up when you’re “gone,” you’re literally training your clients and your team that you’re still “on” when you’re out of office (the same thing applies to your regular business hours, btw). Your word is going to mean less, and we don’t want that.

The bottom line is…

Have a CLEAR plan of action for everyone on how it’s going to work. This way, no one is confused or caught off guard. And this really helps reduce the stress for ALL parties. You want to allow yourself the space to actually be OUT of office – not out of office but still on your phone responding to Slack or Voxer notifications. 

Still struggling with the idea of time off? Let’s bring it all back to this question: Would you expect any of your team members to do work the hours you do and operate the way you do?

Probably not. At least for me. I have to check in with myself with this question to remember that I wouldn’t ask my team member to work a 12 hour day or never take an out of office day. As long as you support your team super well, they’re going to want to support you right back when you need to take time off. 

Do you struggle to take time off? If not, how do you set up your team for success while you’re gone? I’d love your tips!!

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