How to schedule time off as a business owner to boost productivity and creativity

Husain Sumra profile image October 15, 2021 | 5 min read

Business owners are known for their long working hours: Inc. Magazine found that a majority of entrepreneurs work at least 50 hours per week. Long hours are sometimes linked to feelings of burnout. Fortunately, taking time off for a vacation is one way to address burnout.

Why taking time off is good for the business.

As a business owner, you might feel uncomfortable taking time off. There are a few reasons taking time off is good for your business.

  • Improve your long-term productivity. Taking time off can improve your productivity for the long term. 
  • Increase creativity. Taking time off may also increase creativity according to Harvard Business Review. When you break the routine of daily work, there’s a chance you could have a creative breakthrough.
  • Apply your energy to strategic tasks. When people feel pressed for time, there is a tendency to engage in trivial tasks and multi-tasking. If you find yourself spending all day on low-value tasks, your business productivity may suffer. Recharging with a vacation may help you focus on more valuable tasks. 
  • Allow your employees to grow. As the business owner, you might be used to making most of the critical decisions in the business. When you go away on vacation, you can delegate some of your responsibilities to employees. 

Taking time off is also good for your health.

There are also physical and mental health reasons taking time off is worthwhile.

  • Get more rest. Some entrepreneurs fail to get enough sleep. Catching up on sleep on vacation is one way you can improve your health. When you go on vacation, you have the opportunity to disrupt habits that may be linked with sleep problems, like working late into the night. 
  • Exercise. Getting exercise is a way to reduce stress, and going on vacation gives you more time for exercise. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine points out, “Exercise increases the levels of endocannabinoids in the bloodstream,” which can lead to “reduced anxiety and feelings of calm.” You may find it easier to make time for exercise during vacation. 
  • Make time for hobbies. Developing a hobby can improve your mental health. Research reported in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that “taking up a hobby was associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms.” In fact, some professionals prescribe hobbies as a supplement to other health efforts. 
  • Potential heart health benefits. Inc. Magazine reports that going long periods without a vacation may increase the risk of heart disease.

Now that you know some of the potential personal and business benefits of taking time off, let’s plan your time off.

How to schedule your time off effectively.

The following tips can help you plan your time off more effectively. Start with these business tips.

  • Plan at least a few days off. Open your calendar at work and at home and look for an opportunity to take a few days off sometime in the next month or two. Research reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that “a short vacation of four nights has positive effects.” However, more time off may be even better, according to the research reported in the Journal of Happiness Studies that found that “health and well-being (H&W) increased quickly during vacation, peaking on the eighth vacation day.” 
  • Meet with employees to discuss delegation. Delegate critical tasks to other people in advance of going on vacation. In addition, managers can ask questions like “Can you do this?” and “What resources or support do you need from me to do your part of this project?” to check if employees are equipped to take on new tasks.
  • Provide vacation notice to critical customers. Your customers might be in the habit of calling you as the business owner directly when they have a question or need to solve a problem. If you face that situation and do not want to have business calls during vacation, plan ahead. Consider making a list of your five to 10 key customers who contact you the most and call them to let them know about your planned vacation time. Tell them the dates of your vacation and who they may contact in your company while you are away. 
  • Set up your out-of-office message. Before you sign off from work, take a few minutes to set up an out-of-office message for your email and phone voice mail. The out-of-office message should state the dates of your vacation (e.g., DATE LEAVING and DATE RETURNING). Also, provide the name and contact information for your delegate in the message. 

How to personally prepare for time off.

  • Plan ahead to maximize your options. Securing reservations, especially for hotels and travel, and planning vacation activities ahead of time is worthwhile because you will have more options.
  • Define your idea of a successful, refreshing vacation. Harvard Business Review suggests defining what a successful vacation looks like in advance. You might decide to catch up on reading, spend quality time with your spouse, or explore a personal project like writing a novel.
  • Invest time in relationships. A vacation is a great time to spend more quality time with friends and family, especially people you rarely see. Scheduling a few lunch or dinner dates before your vacation starts is one way to make time for socializing.  
  • Enjoy the experience of anticipation. The anticipation of an experience, like looking forward to a trip, can increase happiness. Give yourself some time to daydream a bit about your time off and what kinds of activities you might enjoy.
  • Put yourself on a digital diet. The Isle of Man encourages vacationers to put their phones in a locked box during vacation. You might adapt this idea by turning your phone off and leaving it in a secure place like your home office or car.  
  • Experiment with local travel. You might not feel comfortable traveling long distances in a plane right now due to the pandemic. Instead, look for local travel ideas. For example, go to a nearby state or national park you have never visited. There are more than 400 national parks in the United States. Visit the National Park Service website to find options nearby.


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