5 excuses for not taking vacation

Summer's in full swing and the sun is shining bright! It's the perfect time for a vacation, but many small-business owners are still at the office, saying they don't have time to take a much-deserved break.

According to Natacha Desnoyers, an associate advisor with MCG, an HR and organizational strategy management consulting firm, business owners often give poor reasons for not taking time off. Here's why.

1. I can't delegate

Of course, you care about your business. But unless you're a solopreneur, there's always a way to delegate. And practice makes perfect! - This link will open in a new window. It's an exercise in trust, for you and your team. 

Planning, planning, planning. The key to leaving with peace of mind is to prepare for your time away. The first thing you'll need to do is let your clients and suppliers know about your vacation, so they can plan, too. That way, you'll minimize emergencies.

2. I don't have time

Small-business owners take shorter vacations than managers in large companies, but they more often choose a complete change of scenery. "They head out of the country and unplug quickly and more fully." 

Worried about losing your bearings? "It's actually very healthy," says Desnoyers. "You shouldn't think twice about getting away from it all. The whole year, we put off our plans because of business constraints. Now's a good time to get out of old habits and try something new." 

For many business owners, work and family life are often intertwined. "The family is often invested in the business, with lots of support, discussions and compromise happening throughout the year. Vacation is a great way to give back to our loved ones by spending quality time with them. Strengthening our relationships gives us energy for the rest of the year," says Desnoyers.

3. Business comes before fun

Schedules are an essential part of business. They're both a blessing and a curse. It's hard to get away from them at work, but it's time to put them aside when you're on vacation. Here's how to make everyone happy: change our relationship to time by reversing the proportion of time and stretching out our enjoyment. 

"Last winter, I'd scheduled a meeting with a client on a day calling for heavy snow. He told me that if the storm came, he'd be taking the day off to go skiing. That's a great example of reversing the proportion of time," says Desnoyers. "When you do something on an impromptu basis, you feel like it lasts a lot longer, and you also enjoy the benefits much longer." 

4. I can't unplug

Relaxation is non-negotiable when you're on vacation! It's like oxygen, and it has a direct impact on your mental and physical health. There's no magic formula, but you have to be able to enjoy yourself guilt-free by finding activities that make you feel good. 

These days, the real challenge is in resisting the temptation to check your email just to "see" what's happening. But when you do that, part of you is still at the office. Besides, responding to emails when you're on vacation creates expectations and only increases the number of emails you get. But, if you have to check email, there's no point feeling guilty or being secretive about it! Set aside one or two hours a day for checking messages, so you can fully enjoy the rest of your vacation. And when you're done, make sure to shut down all your devices! 

"I had a client who knew he had a tendency to constantly check email, so he chose a vacation destination in a remote area without Wi-Fi," Desnoyers says approvingly. 

5. I'm stressed when I'm far from the office

To improve the health of your business, you first need to improve your own. It's important to know and respect your limits. Letting go completely might make you anxious. Some people become sick when their adrenaline levels suddenly drop. To offset this, you might gradually ease into vacation mode.

"Business owners are role models for their employees. When they adopt healthy habits, they help develop that kind of culture within their business," says Desnoyers.