Business Advice

How to take a break this Easter without your business falling apart

Emma Koehn /

Running a business is often about managing your energy levels so you can leverage success, but while there are plenty of chances to relax and unwind throughout the year, taking time off can be a conflicting experience. 

Whether it’s the Christmas rush or the approaching Easter long weekend, at some point you’re going to have to juggle your business commitments with calls from family, friends and your community to indulge in some down time. 

But it can be hard to enjoy time away from your business when you have a miles-long to-do list in the back of your mind. We asked business founders how they’re approaching this year’s Easter long weekend to find out how they plan to enjoy themselves without being thrown into a panic about what’s happening back at the office.

Here are their tips for finding balance during Easter, and other holiday seasons, to get the best out of yourself and your relationships with family and friends.

Ashley Farrugia, founder of real estate startup ActivePipe

ActivePipe

Over Easter, I will be out in the boat doing some fishing and relaxing with the family. Balancing family time is not easy for me because I am generally working across multiple time zones now that we have our US and UK operations up and running.

“I think time management is so important, and the time I have with my family I generally try and ensure its quality time, so I’m there 100% — not just physically there and mentally at work, if that makes sense.

“I like to block out family time. For example, I will shut down all of my devices for two-three hour blocks and then jump back online from time to time and catch up on work. That allows me to unplug from work and have some quality time with the family. It also allows me to make better decisions for the business because the catchup time is more focused and I’m less distracted.”

Charlie de Haas, founder of Sydney health snack business, Clean Treats 

My immediate family is located in New Zealand so my Easter long weekend is a little different to some.

“Easter weekend starts with an Easter Dessert Degustation at the Clean Treats factory, followed on Friday by a Coogee to Bondi coastal walk, before some reading and resting. I’m hoping to get some personal journal time in to.

“On Saturday, the Clean Treats factory in Alexandria Sydney will be open and we experience lines out the door on a Saturday, so I play ‘hostess’ and work with the team. I add up 20,000 steps in six hours so my Saturday nights usually equals a date with my couch (or friends, a wine and Netflix).”

On balancing family time and holidays with the needs of your business:

“The word ‘holiday’ was virtually non-existent to me [in the past], and regardless of if I am away, I can never properly switch off.

“I’ve since learned and accepted that Clean Treats is me; it’s more than work. It’s my passion and I want to control everything (and us dreamers/entrepreneurs can generally have some obsessive qualities). But as my team grows and becomes more capable, I can allow myself one hour per day to work [if I’m away from the business], if needed two (one in the am and one in the pm). This means you can put your phone down and be present.”

Chris Hooper, founder of cloud accounting business Accodex

“I actually only realised it was a public holiday [coming up for Easter] today. I will be spending some quality with family and friends. It’s certainly easier [to balance work and time with family over holidays] now I’ve been in business for six years, I’ve got a great team around me.

“That said it’s still a struggle, I am fortunate to have the support of my wife and family. I just hope my kids will understand and respect why Daddy isn’t always home in time for dinner.”

Caroline Guillemain, founder of first aid and event services business, Event Aid 

Our teams are out working hard providing first aid to events, specifically to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which has two big games over the Easter long weekend. I’ll be spending time with my family over Easter whilst keeping an eye on my phone just in case the team or our clients need me.”

On balancing taking time off over holidays like Easter with the need to check your phone:

“When we go on holidays I usually set specific times of the day to check in to the business, normally to coincide with when my children want some down time so they don’t feel like they are missing out on quality time with me.

“If possible, work with your team prior to taking leave so they can carry more of your load during your holiday time. This will help you really switch off and relax. Ensure that you do the same for all team members so they have the opportunity to get some well earned recovery time.

“Setting realistic goals for down time around the needs of the business is also vital. There are days in the event industry where it is impossible for me to have the day off. Myself and my team understand that expectation and we do our best to take down time at other points in the year.”

Janel Horton, founder of pre-made meal and weight loss business Dietlicious

Balancing work and non-work is all about outsourcing. Dinner always requires planning if you want your family to eat healthy food. Takeaway is often calorie laden and nutritionally poor… this Easter with 10 family and friends staying over, I won’t have to work too hard in the kitchen [because I’ll be using my own business to order meals]. 

“I believe organisation is the key. Systems work, particularly at work. Everyone knows what is expected and things get done on time with a minimum of fuss. After 22 years in business I’m always staggered when heading for a long holiday when people say, ‘who runs your business while you are away?’” 

NOW READ: Can’t take a break? How to stay energised when there’s no room for holidays

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

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