Quality of Care Ltd

A Relaxing Holiday Won’t Just Happen – You Need to Prepare.

When on holiday, do you receive calls from work needing your guidance to resolve an issue or make a decision the caller isn’t comfortable making? Do you feel the need to check your emails, just in case?

If you can relate to this – and wish it didn’t – then read on as there are things you can do, before going on that much needed holiday, to make it the relaxing enjoyable time-out you need.

You and your family or partner have been looking forward to this holiday for a while and you really need to get away, recharge your batteries and enjoy some quality time together.

And OK, on previous holidays you’ve received a handful of phone calls and felt the need to check emails, which you’re glad you did because issues arose that needed your attention.

But think back to those interruptions and how you felt or where your head was afterwards. Were you thinking about work or back enjoying the holiday?

This is a big deal because these phone calls and email checks puts you into work mode. You are no longer present with your loved ones but in your head you are somewhere else.

And let’s hope there isn’t a problem that can’t be resolved in one email or phone call. If there is then 10 minutes can stretch to 30 minutes or an hour or more as you wait for replies to your emails or phone calls.

The stress that’s been flowing out of you, whilst away, flood back in and you are there and no longer here.

Your family want and need you with them in mind and spirit, as well as body – to enjoy this rare time together without work and the distractions of life in general getting in the way.

And you need this too.

You need to switch off. You need to relax. You need your brain to be thinking about other things other than work.

But we can’t switch off instantly. Once handling work issues, you think about them, you hope, under your guidance, your team can resolve them, you might talk them through with your partner. The point is you are no longer where you need to be.

Your business and people need you to switch off too. If you come back feeling that you didn’t have the fully relaxing holiday you’d hoped then your business isn’t going to benefit from a rejuvenated you.

So, rather than hope interruptions are rare, wouldn’t it be better to make sure – to proactively put things in place that will ensure you are left alone except for the direst of emergencies.

Here are some tips to help you achieve that:   

     

      1.   Systemise, systemise, systemise

Systemising how your care business runs will make a massive difference. A well systemised business will run more efficiently and effectively and with fewer mistakes for you to address, issues for you to resolve and conflicts for you to manage.

A well systemised business should also run well enough for you to be able to step back from the day-to-day and focus on steering it to where you want it to be.

Which basically means it should run well in your absence – when you’re on holiday.

I wrote about the benefits of systemising your care business and how to do this in the previous two articles. If you missed them they are well worth a read.

Read: The Power of Systemising Your Care Business

Read: 7 Steps to Systemising Your Care Business

Systemising a business takes time and collaborative effort but is well worth it. So, if you haven’t done this then follow the 7 steps in the above article and start this process to systemisation as soon as you can.

Even if you don’t complete the process, which I doubt you will, just addressing those areas that present issues time and again, will make a huge difference.

The journey can be cathartic, thought-provoking and actually fun and when you start to see your days free up, because things are running well and working, very satisfying. 

     

      2.   Prepare others for your absence

Look at the dates from the time you leave to a week after your return.

Prioritise what you need to do before your holiday and what to focus on during that first week of your return.

Who, outside of your business, needs to know that you will not be around? Who can wait for outstanding actions until you are back? Who can external contacts talk to in your absence?

Talk to each of them and address anything that can’t wait until your return. Tie-off loose ends.

Your staff of course need to know and they need to know who will be responsible for what whilst you are away. (See tip 3.)

Make sure, those who will be handling things during your holiday have enough experience, knowledge and the capabilities to carry out their responsibilities and that they can access information that may be needed.

Give them clear boundaries to avoid squabbles over who should be handling a particular problem.

Help your staff understand and appreciate that you need to switch off and relax and that your family need quality time with you.

Create a new voicemail and email message saying you’re on holiday having important quality time with your family. Highlight that you won’t be checking emails and to call your main contact (see tip 3). Of course, let that person know you’ll be doing this.

 

     3.   Delegate

Delegate specific tasks and responsibilities to individuals in your management team.

If possible assign one person to call you and if possible give them the responsibility to decide if you should be called or if the team need to resolve the problem. Reassure your main contact that if they aren’t sure and do call you it’s ok – no one is going to get into trouble.

Make sure everyone knows that this is the person to speak to whilst you’re away. Everything goes through that person.

Give permission for this person only to call you if it’s an emergency or something that only you can make the final decision on. Define what qualifies as one of these.

Make sure they know of anything likely to come in that will need their attention and guide them if necessary on the right course of action. That can wait until I’m back qualifies as an appropriate action.

Give this person clear instructions, rules and guidelines as to what they can and can’t make decisions on without needing to check with you first.

Knowing their experience and skill set will help you set boundaries so that you aren’t setting them up to fail or to make a decision that is harmful to the organisation.

Make it clear to everyone that once you’re out of the door then that’s it…no contact unless it’s absolutely urgent and then only through your assigned main contact who you have authorised to not call if they feel between them they can handle the situation.

Protect your main contact – impress on everyone that this person has the final decision and not to pressure them into contacting if they don’t feel it is urgent enough. And woe betide anyone who does this.

If someone who knows you’re away does call you, ask him or her first if it is urgent or if it can possibly wait. As far as possible, don’t react to your phone ringing but let it go to voicemail. Your holiday time is important and needs to be protected.

 

     4.   Do not work unless you really have to

Leave your laptop at home. If you have a separate work mobile leave it too.

If your personal phone is also your work phone and then switch off all your work emails and only switch on if you get a call from your assigned contact.

If there is work that must be actioned then identify that work and tell yourself that this is the only work you’ll respond to outside of receiving an urgent call from your main contact. Ensure your main contact know what work you are fine them to call you about.

For example, if you are changing banks or buying a new care home and bad timing that you’re away at a crucial time then it’s understandable that you can’t put off responding to questions from your accountant or solicitors or others involved.

If there is a problem with payroll that needs your authorisation to resolve then of course, that too cannot wait for your return.

Do not take any reports or other work-related material with you unless absolutely essential. If you do, leave them in your suitcase or a safe and not lying around vying for your attention. Ideally, that is where they stay.

If you have no choice but to do some work then plan it. What do you intend to do? How much time will you allocate to it? When will you do it. Where possible set yourself boundaries.

Set rules with your contact manager such as the need to call you – not email you – and, if you don’t answer because at that moment you were water skiing, to leave a voicemail which you will check every morning.

Having done what you planned to do, switch off from work mode and switch back into holiday mode. If you don’t make a deliberate effort to do this then, even though you’ve ‘walked away’ from your work, your mind may not have.

If you are still struggling then do something proactively to move your thoughts away from work.

If necessary, say out loud to yourself something like, “Work over. Time to get back to my holiday.”

Intending to work like this should really only happen if you don’t have someone or some others you can rely on to hold the fort in your absence. And if you don’t then you may consider needing to address this when you’re back.

 

     5.   Take a journal and some good books and feed your mind

The best ‘work’ during a holiday is big picture thinking. It’s an opportunity to clear your mind of the daily clutter and get those creative juices flowing.

Holiday time, whiling away hours by a pool or on a beach, is the perfect time to think about your business from a big picture, strategic perspective.

This is a positive activity and shouldn’t feel like work. Thinking about your business whilst on holiday in a positive, strategic way is a good thing. (Provided your family don’t lose you for hours on end of course.)

Reading a good book on a relevant business subject or about a successful business leader can really inspire and trigger ideas for your own business.

Make sure you have a journal with you to write all your new and inspiring thoughts and ideas.

As I said in this post below, it’s a great time to reflect, recharge, and return with renewed focus. 

Read: Recharge and Realign: How Your Holiday Can Help You and Your Care Business

     6.   Take care of yourself

Prioritize self-care and relaxation during your holiday.

Engage in activities that help you recharge and disconnect from work. Engaging in activities you wouldn’t normally, spending time with loved ones, or exploring new places can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance and return to work refreshed.

If you do need to plan some work time then tell your family or partner. Tell them what you intend to do and why you need to do this. Get their ok.

Explain that by doing this you will be far more relaxed because you won’t be worrying about what’s going on back home and that for the vast majority of the time you will be on holiday with them mentally, emotionally as well as physically.

Once they know you need to have these planned short periods of work or there is a must-do task to get out of the way, and how completing them will help you enjoy the holiday with them far more, they’re more likely to support you, which in turn will hopefully stop you feeling guilty and stressed should you have to work.

 

     7.   Plan your return

I said in point 2 to identify what needs to be done before you leave and in that first week back. Including the first week back will give you tasks to focus on rather than turning up wondering what you need to be doing and becoming reactive to the first problem that comes your way.

What are your top priorities when you return? Have them planned in your diary so that when you get back you know what you need to do and can focus on them.

Clearly, one of the first tasks is to have a revue session with your main contact, who you left in charge.

This will give you momentum on your return so you hit the ground running with focus, which will help you get back into work in a controlled way and not overwhelmed with issues.

This controlled transition will in turn keep stress levels low and your holiday memories hopefully won’t fade as quickly as they might.

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Remember, taking a break and disconnecting from work is not only beneficial for your well-being but also for your long-term productivity. By following these tips and setting clear boundaries, you can enjoy a relaxing holiday without interruptions from work colleagues.

And by far the biggest difference you can make is to systemise your organisation. So do read my previous post on the subject to get you started.

Read: 7 Steps to Systemising Your Care Business

Getting this right takes proper planning and real discipline and it won’t just happen. Plan for your business to work in your absence and for you to be left alone as much as possible when relaxing with your loved ones.

You deserve it, your family deserve it and your business needs it.