Years ago, when I was at Inc. magazine, I used to edit Norm Brodsky’s Street Smarts column. Norm wrote many great pieces, but one in particular stuck with me. It was about a goal he’d set for himself once his box-storage and document-destruction businesses had matured. The goal was to take at least 16 weeks of vacation a year. The best part, Norm wrote, was that taking that time to ski or travel or simply get away actually increased the value of his business — by proving it could operate without him. And Norm did indeed go on to sell his business for a lot of money.
While increasing the value of your business by not working has obvious appeal, we all know that taking 16 weeks would be a stretch goal for most owners. Today, as I’m trying to build 21 Hats into a real business, the notion of taking off 16 weeks, or 16 days, or 16 hours seems fanciful. Of course, no one in my situation — the early days of a startup — expects to take vacation time. But I also know that even the owners of established businesses can struggle to get away. Which makes it a great topic to compare notes on—especially as we head into the holidays in this most trying of years.
In the comment section below, please tell us: How many days a year do you try to take off? If you’re succeeding at getting away, tell us what you figured out that lets you do it. If you’re not succeeding, tell us what you’ve tried and what’s stopping you. And once you’ve told us, here’s hoping you will then do your best to enjoy the holidays.
I have found that 3 weeks in the summer is really what I require to recharge. And of that 3 weeks, 1 full week is where I turn on the auto-respond and ask my staff to not bother me unless it's really urgent. I also generally shut the office for the last couple weeks of the year, utilizing a rotating schedule of staffers on call for any "emergencies"
Most years...it's a total of about 20 works days...primarily consisting of 10 days as a part of a long 3-4 day weekend and typically a 10-day "vacation"...
In 2021...I have a big event planned where I'm planning to ride my bike from Venice, Italy to Athens over the course of 25 days...so in this case I'll be taking approximately 30 consecutive days...
...but please remember...as the company's leader...I'll be still checking and returning e-mail, participating on weekly Zoom staff & sales meetings, and be available by phone to take those "emergency" (i.e. we need an answer now) calls...so it's always a "working vacation" no matter where I am in the world
Depends on how we’re defining “off.” I can’t recall a week in which I didn’t read and respond to at least a few business emails. This is an admission, not a point of pride.
Over the past 3 years I've started taking off most Friday afternoons from Memorial Day through October. I'm also starting to block off Monday mornings. So you could say I'm taking 20 days of vacation in this manner. I will take another 4 weeks of traditional vacation. The reason I can do this is I have a wonderful business manager who "looks out" for my best interests. I'm also fortunate that my clients normally don't want to do engagements on Mondays and Fridays.
In most years, I often take about 20 business days (in addition to normal U.S. holidays) over the course of the year. Because I'm a cloud-based IT consulting business, I can work from practically anywhere. However, I tend to only take 3-4 days off at a time to provide opportunity to "reboot" every few months. As a business leader, I believe taking time off is productive and provides opportunity to examine how the business runs in my absence.
I don't take much. I prefer to take it an hour at a time, as it's been hard for me to get away for any extended period. I'd much rather play hooky on a semi-regular basis.
As a newspaper publisher I was entitled to five weeks of vacation and I took all of it. This was pre-2007. I told my five department managers not to contact me (unless the chairman called) but to make decisions on their own and not to delay decisions until my return. They had my contact info. I did not check email until my first morning back because I knew it would pull me back into the loop; I wouldn't be able to relax. On my side, I told them I would not question or criticize their decisions. The one time someone DID call me was to let me know a manager had left to work for a competitor. Kind of ruined the vacation. I left that job in 2006, before social media and a much more competitive digital media environment and more of an hourly news cycle. I am not sure this kind of complete disconnection from the office could be done today. Could it? I am very curious to know. These days, as a professor, I teach for 28 weeks, and in the other 24 weeks I probably have 12 weeks of almost complete withdrawal. It's recovery time.
I have no real plan but end up taking off 6 to 8 weeks in multiple short duration time periods
My wife and I have owned as many as seven companies (we have sold three in the past three years) and have averaged 130 days per year for the past eight years. Of course, 2020 changed all of that. We were only able to go for four weeks this year!
20-25 days a year