Something I have always struggled with as a celebrant is stepping away from my business for holidays, festive periods or just a bit of time off.
It doesn’t matter how much you love working (I love working!), how good you are at it, how much money you make, we ALL have to have time-out. Proper, quality, time-out. But it is a sad reality that many celebrants and self-employed people per se, struggle with taking time away from their business. And I mean time away without scrolling-through emails/business-related social media, type-of-time-away.
It’s really not easy when you’re a celebrant to completely switch off from everything that your celebrant business asks of you. At the end of the day, it’s your business and when you’re taking time out there’s no staff taking turns on shifts to keep the business turning over! It’s all down to you! And so this can make time away so difficult to have.
Why taking a break is hard in the first place
Firstly, there’s the fear of missing out on bookings. As self-employed wedding professionals, we don’t want to miss out on that awesome couple who get in touch the minute you put your ‘out of office’ email responder on.
Nor do we want to appear to be away in case people decide not to contact us and go elsewhere. Yes, there is the argument that if a couple are really interested in you, they’ll wait (yes, there are some like this) but equally there are lots of great couples out there who won’t. Because let’s face it, we work in a competitive industry where there are LOTS of awesome celebrants, many right in the same patch, and sometimes the difference in one celebrant being booked over another can sometimes just come down to the fact that one celebrant responded to the couple more quickly than the other. But do you know what, for the sake of your own sanity and mental well-being, sometimes you’ve just got to be prepared to let some couples go, no matter how perfect for you they might have been, or how much it might affect your earnings.
Then, there’s the whole difficulty in not being able to 100% switch off. When you have things pending on a to-do list, ceremonies to plan and prepare or outstanding admin, it can be hard to not think about it. I definitely am someone who in the midst of having fun and downtime can have a sudden-flash thought about all the work I have that needs doing. It’s a constant battle.
But with all of this in mind, time off is not impossible and with some preparation and planning, you can actually step away from your business and find that you return to it and it’s still standing and there are still couples who are excitedly waiting to hear from you!
Here are my top tips for preparing your business ahead of a break or a holiday.
- Commit to your timeout
Before any actual planning and prep needs to be done, you’ve actually got to commit yourself to your time off. Mentally commit yourself. If you’re only half-hearted about having time away from your biz, then you’re only going to have a half-hearted time away from your biz. Once you’re mentally onboard with your timeout and you know that you want this time to be quality and distraction-free, you’ll do your best to make it be like that.
- Decide on what kind of time-out you’re having
The great thing about working for yourself is that you can decide how you want to work. And in the same way, you can decide how you want to take your timeout. You may want to have absolute time-out where you literally do not check or reply to emails (hats off to those of you who can do this) and where you do not do anything work-related. This type of time-off is similar to those with an office job where once they’ve left their desk and switched off their phone, they’re off duty! #goals
Or like me, you might be someone who isn’t able to fully switch off. You might still have to check in with your business and make sure that everything is ticking over. When I go on holiday I set aside about 30 minutes first thing in the morning to check any incoming urgent emails and that’s it. Some days I might not check at all. You’ve got to do it in the way that works for you.
- Have systems in place
Make sure you have systems in place to make your time off more manageable. So that could mean anything from vacation and holiday responders to let people know you’re away and anything else that you want want to share with them. It might mean contacting current clients to let them know you’re away. It might mean having your software systems set up to handle your enquiries and even take bookings and payments on your behalf. It may mean planning out a time away schedule, so that you can follow a different way of working to how you usually do when you’re at work. It’s using all of your resources to make your time off as smooth, restful and balanced as possible.
- Plan and schedule your social media content
If you’re someone who wants to keep on having a social media presence even when technically you are away and having timeout, then using social media software is going to be a big help. With a bit of post planning and foresight you’ll be able to create and schedule posts to publish automatically without your input. So you continue to have a presence, without being present.
I’ve actually decided recently that from now on when I’m on holiday, or having a break, that is exactly what I’ll be doing and my social media will also take a break. My reason for this? Posts lead to engagement, engagement leads to comments and as lovely as that is, I don’t want to be using my time off to reply to comments. So for me, time off means time off everywhere!
So there you have it. It is possible to have guilt-free, quality breaks away from your business. Enjoy your time off however long it is, whatever you do, and wherever you go, even if it’s just to potter about at home. We’re not meant to spend every breathing hour working and we really can step away from work and return to it, reinvigorated and refreshed and ready for the next round.