As the leader of one of Australia’s fastest-growing eCommerce businesses, downtime is hard for me to come by – and disconnecting even harder. But as a leader, I recognise the importance of taking time off, recharging and reviewing the business outside the day-to-day to start the new year with perspective and energy, writes Cameron Holland, CEO of Luxury Escapes.
Here’s my advice for business owners to disconnect and embrace the downtime these holidays.
1. Set specific times to be contactable and stick to them
If you’re the owner or leader of a business chances are you will find it tricky to switch off no matter what time of year it is, so it’s important to start by being realistic about when and how you want to work.
You may decide to keep things business as usual outside the public holidays, work remotely but stay connected or take a couple of weeks off but if you’ve got a business that needs to run in your absence then setting up a structure and communicating that to your team ahead of the break is crucial.
As someone with a young family I know it’s important to be able to switch off at certain times so I make that clear to my team ahead of the holiday break, letting them know when and how they can contact me and when I won’t be available. This system helps me to shift in and out of work mode with less disruption to my family and our time together.
2. Automate, automate, automate
Chances are there’s plenty of tasks you complete on a day-to-day basis that are the same. According to a recent US study, the average worker spends between 20% to 30% of their day repeating tasks or providing information on an existing task.
Automation can help save time and reduce repetitive work – and is particularly useful if you have processes that need to be able to run in your absence. Review your weekly tasks and identify where you can set up automated systems (eg; reporting, customer service messages, FAQ bots, capturing and nurturing leads or sending surveys) to reduce ‘busy’ work during the holiday period and an ongoing basis.
3. Empower your team
Whether you’ve got 1 or 100 employees, make sure they understand accountability during the holiday period and that there’s a defined process for who is doing what over the break.
It’s important everyone feels they can take time off, but also that your business is set up for them to do so – eg we have a contact centre at Luxury Escapes staffed 24/7 to ensure our customers aren’t waiting on us, but we staff it in a way that enables the customer team to each get time off over the break.
You could also set up an approved delegate authorised to make day-to-day decisions in your absence. This can work as a great development opportunity for key staff and sets an example of trust and accountability to your team.
4. Remove the daily distractions
Remove apps and pause subscriptions that aren’t vital for your day to day – If you can’t be 100% offline then remove clutter from your inbox and phone. Delete apps you don’t need to use everyday and pause email subscriptions or drop them all into a ‘read later’ folder to save your inbox. Reserve your energy for key decisions or activity that requires your specific perspective.
I have a traffic light dashboard system where I can open up my platforms to see that everything is green and then close it down again, instead of sifting through various tasks and communications to identify what’s important. It’s a good way to see that everything is ticking over without getting buried in the detail.
5. Get offline and outside
It can be difficult to disconnect when your work and lifestyle interconnect. Even when you’re not in the office you may still be getting calls from customers or team members, or if you work from home it may be difficult to split work from personal time.
Sometimes you do need to get away and while I’m very partial to a tropical island getaway (with limited wifi) you could go camping with the family and embrace getting off the grid for a few days. After all, spending time with the people you love is what the holidays are all about – how you do that is up to you.