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Businessman using cell phone at beach in California. (Jupiterimages/(c) Jupiterimages)
Businessman using cell phone at beach in California. (Jupiterimages/(c) Jupiterimages)

Start: Mark Evans

The ups (and downs) of a work-cation Add to ...

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and Jill a dull girl.

Wise words for entrepreneurs and small business owners who need to take a break. The challenge is figuring out how to keep the company running when you're sitting on a beach or a dock.

In an ideal world, small business owners take worry-free vacations by having an employee or a partner at the helm. But what do you do if you're a one-person operation? How do you go away without leaving your customers high and dry?

The best scenario is to determine times during the year when business slows down and customers will also be taking vacation. Last year, for example, I discovered business pretty much evaporated in August. At first, there was a feeling of panic because no business is no good. When I realized it was simply a slow time of the year, I was able to enjoy my vacation as well – something I appreciated when business picked up again after Labour Day.

Unfortunately for some entrepreneurs, making a complete break is not possible because customers still need to be served. That means taking a work-cation. The downside is that work comes with you on vacation; the upside is that it's still a vacation.

For people taking work-cations, the key is making sure work doesn't dominate. It means being disciplined about when you work and how many hours it consumes.

The biggest challenge is e-mail, given the inbox can be a constant siren. If it needs to be tended, a good approach is to allocate some time in the morning (30 to 60 minutes) and more in the evening. If possible, go into another room or an Internet café to separate work from the vacation.

While it is easy to fall into the trap that e-mail needs constant and immediate attention, the truth is checking in a couple of times a day will probably do the trick.

Another e-mail management technique is to turn off your iPhone or Blackberry or, at the very least, resisting the urge to check for new messages throughout the day. This requires Herculean-like strength but it can be done.

While completely getting away can be difficult, if not impossible, vacations are good for business. Owners are able to re-charge their batteries. When the vacation is over, hopefully it means coming back to work refreshed, reinvigorated and anticipating your next vacation.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting, a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers ‘stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups – Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye – so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences .

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