How to Prep for Out of the Office as a Solopreneur
I truly love the feeling of shutting down my computer before an out of office break, feeling accomplished and ready for a break. As much as I love what I do, I find joy and inspiration in rest and relaxation, and know it’s necessary not just for my mental health, but the health of my business.
But the feeling of shutting down your computer with peace and relaxation doesn’t come easy. As a business owner, I’ve experienced firsthand the range of emotions that come when you want to fully check out of your business for a few days. It’s tough enough to fully check out of work as an employee, and as a solopreneur, it’s doubly hard.
Below are a few of my tried and true tips for maximizing your time out of the office in the most stress-free way possible.
Remind your clients early and often.
Almost every hiccup I’ve had with a client while out of the office is because I didn’t properly communicate my availability with my clients. When onboarding new clients, I’m sure to mention that I’ll be out of the office during a portion of their project, and ensure they’re comfortable with that before moving forward. I strive to be ultra-clear with what that will look like for them, and ensure they won’t notice any interruption in service.
With current clients who I work with on a regular basis, I send them a message about two weeks before heading out of town that looks something like this:
Hey, [name]! I want to give you an early head’s up that I’ll be out of the office for a few days in the new few weeks, from [date] to [date], and am not planning on working during that time. Since we’re still a few weeks out, let me know by [date] if there’s any project you want me to tackle before I head out of the office. Thanks for your flexibility!
This provides next steps, and a specific date for them to get back to you with any pressing projects, so you can dedicate enough time to what they’re working on.
Use an informative out of office.
Of course, not every client remembers to mark their calendar for when you’ll be out, and there’s others who will reach out while you’re gone. Be sure to set up your email (and voicemail, if relevant) with an out of office message that gives concrete next steps, and sets expectations for when and how you’ll be in touch. Here’s a sample:
Thanks for your email! I will be out of the office from [date] to [date], without access to email. I will be back in the office on [date], and will get in touch as soon as possible after I return.
If you would like to schedule a phone call for when I return you can do so here: [calendar scheduling link]. If you have an urgent request, please reach out to my assistant at [email], and they will get in touch as soon as possible.
This sets boundaries, states exactly when you’ll get back to them, and what to do if they have a more urgent request. I love including a scheduling link to set up a call - it gives the individual the ability to have an appointment on the calendar to circle back to their request. And if you have another person on your team, it provides another touchpoint as well.
Schedule, schedule, and schedule some more.
To provide uninterrupted service to your clients, you can knock out work ahead of time and schedule it to be reviewed by them while you’re out of the office. Scheduling apps like Boomerang and Gmail scheduler make it possible for emails to be scheduled ahead of time; your clients may not even know you’re gone.
Scheduling is also key for social media, newsletters, and any other customer touchpoints that should remain active while you’re out of the office. You are not always your business,
Explore hiring a helping hand.
If you truly want to let go of your business while you’re out of the office, think about hiring someone to help out. If you don’t have it in your budget to hire a long-term assistant, think about who you know (such as a friend, family member, or former coworker) who you can trust, and who would be happy to earn a few extra bucks by monitoring your email while you’re away. Arm them with some canned responses to new inquiries or clients, and set up a way to chat with them if there really is a pressing query that needs to be answered right away.
Turn off notifications and relax.
Turning off all notifications on my phone outside of text messages and phone calls is a godsend. The vast majority of businesses don’t operate in life or death scenarios, and I’ll bet money that Instagram message doesn’t really need to be answered immediately. Business owners deserve a break, and you have the power to make it that much more enjoyable.
How do you make the most out of your out of office time?