The Art of Taking a Break

July 9th, 2013   •   2 comments   

Summer is here and many of us will take some type of time off work for either a long holiday weekend or maybe—if you are fortunate—to travel for a week or so to some unchartered territory or new adventure. I think social media has played a real role in promoting travel and exposing us to new opportunities. For example, I am impressed by my friend Mark Schaefer’s (@MarkWSchaefer) extensive travel—work related with a personal few days tagged on. Mark has mastered this art of weaving work with some vacation and I have loved seeing his documented visits to foreign places and the people he has met literally all over the world. I think Facebook has become many people’s “digital scrapbook” and when we are old we can look back and remember what we did each year!

Whenever I travel, I try to think about new business and how to attract it in other locations. Call me crazy but it is really difficult for me to totally break my routine. Therefore, more important for me to do it I think. To be honest, I do have a tug of guilt hanging over me when I’m laying on a beach and my team is working. To justify my time off (not that I have to), I try and generate new (extra) revenue and opportunities. It is a time for me to think about existing work but also a time to say “hey, how can we help some of these other businesses out there who don’t know we exist.” Sometimes this happens on an airplane when you sit next to someone who either hires you later or refers business to you. Other times it may happen over a dinner where you meet someone who has a need for your services or products. The digital world of connectivity we live in allows for us to work remotely and quickly—a real change in how sales teams work these days.

After being on a nice break—both personal and a bit of work-related—here is what I have learned this year and hopefully some of these points can help you:

1. Prepare in advance for going out of town or out of the office for extended periods of time: In my firm this means getting client work organized and doing things in advance so that we minimize “emergencies” and unexpected “pop up client issues” which often cannot be avoided no matter the advance preparation but trying to anticipate them helps a lot.

2. Try to sell something on your break or vacation. I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you have ownership in your company or career, selling something on a break creates extra value. I’ve often had members of my team say that I should go out of town more often.

3. Answer most emails and phone calls during your break but do it first thing in the morning and tell clients that’s the best time to catch you. I typically work an hour or two each day on any break but usually in the mornings. I know myself well enough to know that I’ll relax more if I stay ahead of things and know what is going on. If a client really needs me, as long as I have cell service, I’ll be there. I can’t relax otherwise which is also part of owning a business—you are never really “off.”

4. Taking a break makes you appreciate your job more. I think routines are good for us and a good break helps us recharge and realize this.

5. Set the expectations with family or friends while on break. My family knows that when a client needs me or calls, I’m going to be on the phone some. But when it’s time to head to the water park or out in the gulf, that cell phone stays parked inside.

6. Get personal things done in advance of any break to avoid the guilt of being overwhelmed when you return. If you have kids, you know what I mean like: get camp supplies before you leave or get their dental appointments done, etc. Another example for me includes having someone cut my grass for me while I’m gone so I don’t come home to having to bale hay. Anticipating and handling these details make for a better break and not so much overwhelming tasks when you return. How many times have you heard people say, “I enjoyed our trip but it’s almost not even worth it.” That is referring to all of the logistics it takes to get kids, dogs, etc. in all the right places.

7. Finally and most importantly—rely on your excellent team to get it done while you are out. I am blessed to have a great team who knows how to get our work done without me having to be there every minute. This is a huge milestone for a business like mine. Without a capable team, a break can be more stressful and harmful to a business. Additionally, we make sure our team gets a break and team members get vacation time, most Friday afternoons off (or at least out of the office headed to the lake) and time off during the holidays.
There are probably more tips we could add to this list but these are a few of mine. I’d love your comments and experiences!


  1. Bill ssppenfield says:

    What happened to our break, today? Was really looking forward to it’

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