vacation mode

Getting into a “vacation all I ever wanted!” state of mind is easier said than done when you’re an entrepreneur. After all, entrepreneurs wear so many hats running their small businesses that it’s nearly impossible to take time away — even if it’s for a long weekend.

What’s the best way to get into vacation mode when you’re an entrepreneur? Most of us are familiar with the standard rules of setting up OOO messages for emails and not checking our iPhones every five minutes. Are there any creative approaches to getting into vacation mode? I asked TK female entrepreneurs to give me a glimpse into the out-of-the-box ways they prep for a truly relaxing vacation. Take a page from their books the next time you plan for a vacay away!

1. Punch up your OOO reply.

Emily Jenks, owner and photographer of Emily Jenks Photography, knows firsthand how tough it can be to stop thinking about business and relax during a getaway. Jenks creates an out of office (OOO) reply, which is typically the first item on the agenda for most travelling ‘treps.

However, Jenks has fun with the words she uses in her OOO message. She’s taking time off and unplugging and wants to enjoy that time away. “I like to say something like ‘I am away, sipping cocktails by the beach and chasing my kids around. I will get back to you as soon as I can!.’”

Jenks also emphasizes in her OOO message that she is going to try her best not to respond quickly. If she does reply fast, usually within 24 hours, she encourages clients to call her out on it and tell her to get back to her vacation.

2. Leave your laptop at home.

Can you imagine being without your laptop for days on end? As it turns out, quite a few female entrepreneurs I spoke to make it an active habit to sufficiently untether themselves from their electronic devices. They don’t mind unplugging either.

Margaret Williamson, owner of Leaf + Petal, is a wedding florist and decorator. She leaves her laptop at home whenever she goes on vacation. “A large part of my workday involves answering emails. I have an easier time relaxing if I don’t bring the computer with me.”

Eco-luxury interior designer Sonja Landis also leaves her laptop and files at home. In the event of an emergency, she is able to access digital files as needed through her smartphone and Dropbox account.

“I remind myself that everything is fixable, everything can be figured out, and that no one person is so important that the world (or my important vacation time to re-balance myself) needs to stop.” Landis says.

3. Travel to a new locale where there isn’t smartphone reception.

Want to really make sure you’re not checking your phone nonstop during vacation? Get off the grid entirely by travelling to a remote location.

This is a strategy that works for Aaliyah Nitoto, founder and winemaker at Free Range Flower Winery. Nitoto knows that the only way she can truly get away from the 24/7 responsibilities surrounding her small business is to skip any towns where there’s cell phone service entirely. “My partner and I drive a few hours out of town to the mountains, like Yosemite, or a remote hot springs in the middle of nowhere. The to-do lists and messages continue to pile up in my absence, but the reset is well worth it.”

4. Balance your first vacation day with a cocktail.

If you have a great, supportive team of employees left behind to run the show, your mind will be put at ease. Celebrate with Williamson’s advice to draw a line in the sand for the day with a cocktail. “I like to have a cocktail (or two) around 7 in the evening. This keeps the long day balanced and lets me know it’s time to relax.”

5. Coming home? Create a buffer day.

All great vacations, unfortunately, must come to an end. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to immediately run into the office and frantically figure out how to clear out your inbox and get back to work.

Mindfulness expert and yoga teacher Trish Tutton advises vacationers create a buffer day. This is a special day off at home once you return from your trip. Buffer days allow entrepreneurs to get back to the sense of rhythm that they had before leaving for vacation. “I use my buffer day so I can unpack, hit a yoga class, do laundry, and eat a home cooked meal.”