In theory this sounds easy to do, but if you’re in sales or own your own business it can be almost impossible. If you’re like me, you worry that if you check-out from work that nobody else in your company will be able to handle your clients with the same quality of care that you do.
This is especially so because I’m guilty of checking my work emails and messages from the moment I wake up at 5:30am until just before I go to sleep at 10pm. Whether it’s the evening, the weekend or I’m off stick, I can’t help but attend to all my work-related calls, emails and text messages. By doing this, my clients have an expectation that I am available at all times.
The primary reason I opted to make myself so available is because I manage clients across Canada. I am based out of the east coast and almost half of my clients are on the west coast. This means that when my head office is closed at 4pm, it is still 1pm, the middle of the work day, for a substantial portion of my clients. Needless to say, I made myself available to them to secure the business and it was an excellent move.
This is all great until I need to take a break and go on vacation. How does one take time off when work is constantly beckoning you at your side?
Similar to the electronic devices we use on a daily basis, we too need to rest and recharge. It is essential to our mental and physical health. Taking a well-deserved break will enable you to come back to work refreshed and better able to tackle all of the challenges in front of you.
How can you “separate” yourself from work and not feel guilty?
Keep in mind that everyone (your clients included) can understand the need to take a break. As long as you can get away without their service being completely interrupted in your absence, go for it! We are all deserve some sort of vacation, so don’t cheat yourself of that.
Follow the following steps:
- Make a Contact List for Your Clients to Contact in Your Absence
Compile a list of the basic elements of your job and assign a person in your company to handle those tasks in your absence. Make sure to get their permission and your supervisor’s permission to delegate your tasks before you leave, otherwise you might land in some hot water with your co-workers.
- Set an Out-of-Office Email Reply
This is quite standard practice. Be sure to include the exact dates that you will be unavailable and all of the contact information of your colleagues who will be able to assist your customers in your absence. Upon my return to the office, I will send an email to all of my clients who emailed me while I was away in order to assure that their inquiries were taken care of. This is important because I have noticed that almost 50% of my clients will wait for me to come back because they prefer to deal with me directly.
- Change Your Voicemail
Compile a temporary voicemail message which will relay the same details as your out-of-office reply.
- Give Your Clients a Head’s Up
Email: This is very important if you have clients that have grown accustomed to emailing you and assuming you have everything taken care of and don’t check their inbox for a reply. If a client places an order in the morning and doesn’t see your out-of-office reply until later that day or the next day, their order may be substantially delayed and they will not likely be very happy. Send them a quick email before you leave stating exactly when and how long you will be away and who they are to contact in your absence. Your clients will really appreciate this.
Text: Since there is no automatic out-of-office text message reply, be sure to text your clients who regularly text you before you leave to let them know you will not be receiving your messages. I have no idea why there isn’t an app for this in this day in age. Whoever invents this will be a millionaire!
- Turn Off Your Phone and Get Off the Internet!
Yes, that’s right! Disconnect!
- Enjoy Your Vacation!
Today I’m heading off on vacation for one week. I’ve finished scrambling to get everything done before I leave, which often is more stressful than the average work week and I’ve completed all of the steps above and plan to enjoy my time off guilt-free. I hope you do the same.
Safe travels my friends and don’t forget to charge your batteries every once in a while too.