Monthly Archives: August 2016

A thought for August from Your Critical Friend

It is August and everyone seems to be looking forward to holidays, on holiday or newly back from holidays. Holidays are so important; time to rest, recuperate, explore new places, see beautiful things and most of all spend time with the people we love. Holidays are a gift and a joy. They recharge our batteries and that fuel takes us forward into an exciting future.

If you are away at the moment, then I hope you are having a wonderful time (and why are you reading this?). I hope that you have left work in a controlled state and can relax properly. If you have then congratulations, that is how it should be for everyone.

Out of office

Or are you one of the others?

Just recently I seem to be seeing people who are dreading their holidays. There are two reasons for this. Either they are excessively busy which is wonderful but scary because there is so much to do and the last thing they need is to take two weeks off and do nothing. They might not have anyone to whom they can delegate or just do not think it is possible to pass work over (fear of delegation is a very real disease). The result is that they take all their work paraphernalia with them and discover too late that there is no broadband or no phone signal where they are. Anyway the family bushwhack them and will not let them work.

The other reason is because they are unhappy with the way business is going and for a fortnight they will find themselves worrying and unable to think about anything else; they will beat themselves up; it will ruin everything, make them grumpy and the holiday will be counterproductive.

So what can be done to ensure you do enjoy your holiday and come back into the real world fully refreshed and raring to go?


  • Stepping out of the business needs preparation. The world will not stop because you are not there to answer the phone but it will go on, so plan for it realistically.
  • About 3 weeks before hand make your To Do Before I Go list – and make sure that you only list the things that really need doing. Then do only them.
  • Think communications – who or what will deal with phone calls and emails whilst you are away? Technology is wonderful and all sorts of diversions are possible but if you don’t need to go that far then organise your Out of Office message or Voicemail message so you are telling people why you are not responding and when you will. Do not even consider doing it from the beach! People are not unreasonable and only fire and flood really need dealing with immediately; if they know when you are back they will wait.
  • If the business is to continue while you are away who is in charge, what are their limits of authority and what are the processes you want them to follow? At some stage I shall write about having robust processes for this purpose but for the time being think about briefing your stand-in on work in hand.
  • Which issues might come up whilst you are away and what should your stand-in do about it?
  • If the business is on hold because you are missing, be very clear about what you want people to do in your absence – leave a message, write an email etc. Maybe you will divert calls to a Virtual Assistant who can take thorough, accurate messages and prioritise what you need to do on your return so the first few days back are organised and not chaos.

Working whilst you are away

  • This is fine if it is strategic longer term thinking. The sort you do whilst you are on the sun lounger with your mind in that lovely blue skies dreamy world where you can range around possibilities, opportunities, new angles, new directions etc. take a notepad and catch those ideas but do nothing more.
  • It is not fine if it involves you pounding your iPad and crunching figures. You will go home feeling guilty for not achieving all that you wished; your family or friends will be furious that your body was with them but your mind was elsewhere; and worst of all you will be just as tired as you were when you went. There will have been no rest or recuperation or fun; life will have been the same as the other 50 weeks of the year.

Coming back to work

  • If you have relaxed properly it will take you a week to get your work stamina back. You know this, so why be surprised when it happens? Prepare to be gentle with yourself.
  • Plan for your first week back – work 9 to 5 not your usual hours; prioritise the really important, the urgent and the tasks that will make a real difference to the business this week.
  • Respond to everyone who left a message whilst you were away. Trust is easily lost if you do not.
  • Schedule a couple of hours to look at that notepad and consider the ideas you came up with whilst your mind was relaxing.
  • Use technology to fend off the trivia that can wait.

If you are the worrying kind

If you are unhappy about the direction of your business, your poor profit, lack of customers or whatever and you have been ignoring it then do something before you go away to sort it. We all know that if we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always got. If you know there is a need to change then make a plan to help you think out the new direction you want to follow or how you tackle the problem. This could be:

  • New direction – find a coach or a mentor to help you focus, understand your thinking and craft a plan to get there.
  • Specific problem – research ways to tackle it; look at the competition; read some books; go on a course; join a group of like-minded people. Ignore it no longer; find a way to deal with it.
  • Then when you return from holiday – do it! Put the plan into operation.

None of this is original. You have heard it all before. Holidays are fun. They are your reward for hard work. They are time with the people you love in new and exciting environments. They offer a space for R&R and to feed your soul. They are not times to beat yourself up or worry about what is happening back at the ranch. Do not take it with you – leave the negative stuff behind you. Enjoy the gift of free time.

If this has been interesting, please share it. If you are thinking of working with a mentor, please chat with me about what you are hoping to achieve. I might be the right person for you or I can help you find someone who is. In the meantime, life is good; let’s live it to the full and be the best we can be.