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Unplugged: How I Took 3 Weeks Off From My Business

Thrive

Taking time off from your business can feel like a daunting prospect, especially when you’re used to being fully immersed in its day-to-day operations. But with careful planning and the right systems in place, it’s not only possible but essential for maintaining your wellbeing and that of your business too.  With you will rested and recharged, you can bring so much more energy to both your business and life.

It will come as no surprise to regular blog readers that I’ve always been a strong advocate for strategic planning and efficient systems, and in April, I put that belief into action by taking my longest break yet from my business. I want to share with you how I did this, hoping it inspires you to prioritise your own downtime.

While it wasn’t my first time stepping back from work, this break was the longest I had ever taken, just over 3 weeks. From day one of building my business, I made it a priority to establish robust systems, leverage technology, and document standard operating procedures (SOPs) for both my clients and internal operations. This strong foundation not only means the business can continue without me, but also keeps the business running smoothly day in and day out. If you haven’t invested in building such a foundation yet, now’s the time to start! And we should probably talk!

Let’s delve into the steps I took:

Start Planning Early

Starting the planning process five months ahead might seem like overkill to some, but in reality, it was the perfect timeframe for me to assess all aspects of my business that would need to happen without me. This extended runway allowed me to take a deep dive into upcoming client commitments, such as launches, events, or ongoing projects, and develop a plan for their management in good time.

For instance, coordinating client launches requires timing and coordination. By starting the planning process well in advance, I was able to anticipate potential roadblocks, allocate resources effectively, and ensure that my team had ample time to familiarise themselves with the project.

This early planning wasn’t limited to client-related tasks. I also spent time focussing on my own projects, such as content creation and social media management. By mapping out content schedules, I could get ahead in good time and guarantee a consistent online presence even while I was away. Something that I had spent a lot of time on this year already to increase visibility so I really didn’t want this to slip.

Starting the planning process early wasn’t just about ticking boxes on a to-do list—it was about laying a solid foundation for a worry-free break. It provided me with the peace of mind that every aspect of my business had been thoughtfully considered and planned for, leaving no room for unexpected surprises or disruptions.

Review Your SOPs

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) serve as the guiding principles for any successful business operation, providing a structured framework for tasks and processes. However, they become even more important preparing for an extended period of absence.

Regularly reviewing and updating SOPs is a standard practice in my business, ensuring that we stay up to date and responsive to what’s needed for our clients and the business as a whole.

In the months leading up to my break, I reviewed our SOP library. This involved not only revisiting existing procedures but also identifying any gaps or areas for improvement. By doing so, I could ensure that my team had access to the most up-to-date and relevant information, meaning they could carry out any task needed in my absence with confidence. It is really important to me that my team can do anything they need and know it will work.

Ultimately, the goal was twofold: to make sure my team knew everything they needed to, and to instil confidence in our clients that their projects would continue to receive the same level of attention and expertise.

The Handover

For projects like client launches that coincided with my absence, I think I covered every eventuality! From detailed handover documents to pre-drafted emails and templates.

These handover documents provided a roadmap for seamless project continuity. These documents weren’t just a checklist of tasks but knowledge, insights, strategies, and key contacts which might be needed to draw upon.

While standardized SOPs are invaluable for day-to-day operations, there are times when a personal touch is needed and it’s really helpful to for someone to see how you do it.  With that in mind I think I vlogged myself for the month before I left! I find video to be so effective in conveying nuances and best practices.

What supported the handover of all clients was our regular team communication and team meetings which means we’re all familiar with all clients and how we support them, this makes the support interchangeable between me and the team. I will be forever grateful for the time I invite in relationships and the openness and transparency by which I run my business. 

Use Tech to Support You

Automation was my not-so-secret weapon for maintaining consistency with content. By pre-scheduling social media posts, email newsletters, and blogs, I ensured that my online presence remained active even when I wasn’t physically there. This also allowed me to disconnect without worrying about falling behind.

I had worked hard from the start of the year to be more visible online so I really needed this to continue. 

Are you thinking about taking time out but it feels a bit too overwhelming and you’re not sure how to make it work?  For almost the price of my favourite Starbucks order (a grande Caramel Macchiato and a Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffin in case you’re wondering), you can purchase my toolkit on how to easily and effectively step back for a week, a month, or a full sabbatical if you want to, with the confidence that your business will continue without you. 

You can get your copy here.

Taking time off from your business is not only possible but necessary for your wellbeing and the long-term success. By prioritising strategic planning, efficient systems, and technology, you too can enjoy guilt-free time away from your business.

Remember, your business should support your life, not consume it.

Meet Katie

Katie is a business operations strategist, manager and workflow expert, designing and streamlining what goes on behind the scenes for better results.