Use This Summer to Switch Off

We’re writing this piece as a call to action: you need to take some time off this summer.

With the stop-start nature of the past 12+ months, you might be tempted to keep ploughing on over the holiday period and forgo a break, but we think that is a recipe for eventual burnout. While it’s likely not as many of us will be heading overseas for a trip this summer, still going away or simply ‘switching off’ is a must. 

We all need headspace. You might find a short break is just the tonic for allowing your mind the time to rest, reset and come back stronger in the second half of the year.

We spoke a lot last year about the need to build resilience stores while we all individually dealt with the ongoing pandemic and concerns/stress that brought, and while it appears we still have at least some way to go with Covid-19 it makes perfect sense to use this summer as the opportune moment to catch your breath and recuperate.

Here’s some of our thoughts on how you can go about maximising your time off this summer:

1. Start planning now
We’re all guilty of letting things creep up on us and taking a couple of weeks off can sometimes seem like a surefire way to lose momentum or dent our progress in a project (or revenue). However, putting plans in place as quickly as possible is something we recommend. While people who don’t run businesses tend to think business owners have the luxury of just taking off when they please, in reality this is frequently not true. If you’re an activity provider who mainly operates term-time, you shouldn’t have to worry so much about staffing classes and clubs, but if you do run activities during the holiday period or you still have a heavy workload during the summer for preparation then consider making plans for others to cover for you. If you run your business solo, then consider putting as much as possible on auto-pilot while you’re away. If you’re a provider who operates heavily during the holidays and there’s no way of getting away, then consider planning for when this is over.

2. Communicate with customers
One of the biggest fears of any children’s activity provider is missing a sales opportunity or simply being slow to respond to customer needs. That’s understandable, but you’ve got to set some boundaries as the ‘always on’ approach doesn’t work for most people (we’re not robots) and putting in systems or processes, even simple ones like an out-of-office can do wonders it allaying your fears that customers aren’t being communicated with. If you really must, taking half hour every few days to answer urgent emails may calm anxiety!

3. Set expectations with staff
If you run an activity business that has staff, then let them know how you can be reached in an emergency but that you expect them to hold the fort while you’re away. If they’re used to you being around and answering questions every five minutes, they’ll probably still be in the habit of doing that and assume you’ll be checking emails, so ensuring you again set some boundaries and communicate effectively is important. It also goes a long way to setting a healthy internal culture in your business where staff can also do the same when they take annual leave. Lead from the front.

4. Batching and automation mode
We are blessed with systems and tools that allow us to run aspects of our business on auto-pilot. Many of you will be used to doing this year round even when you’re very present in the business but they can be a lifesaver when taking time off. Tasks that still need doing on a regular or timely basis can still be achieved by automating them. Activities like email newsletters and social media posts are perfect examples. Put the effort in now to schedule these tasks so you don’t have to think about them when you’re away.

5. Tasks now and tasks later
We all have a ‘to do’ list. If you’re anything like us, you’ll have multiple and there is a very real need to get things ticked or crossed off the list at all times, however you won’t be able to do this while you’re away and we don’t want that to lead to anxiety or stress. Aim to get some bigger tasks done as soon as possible (start them early in the week or your day so you ensure they get done). This way, you’ll likely feel more at ease letting some of the smaller tasks sit on the list for when you return.

If you’re taking some time off this summer (and you should be), we hope some of these tips help in preparing you. While having time to yourself or going away can be the perfect solution to potential burnout, being prepared and getting things set before you do so will lead to a more restful and focused time dedicated to you and your family. This is sometimes just what your business needs most.

P.S. Before you take a break, you might want to consider ICAP membership. With over 100 resources, webinars and programmes available PLUS a Free Ticket to our conference event in October, there is something for every children’s activity provider to take advantage of.

By becoming a member of ICAP you’re joining a community of like-minded professionals and business owners in the children’s activity sector working towards excellence