With a reputation as “The World’s Most Disciplined Man”, people often assume that I’m one of those crazy entrepreneurs who is in the office 24/7.

But nothing could be further from the truth…

In fact, every year, I make a point to spend two, three, or sometimes even four consecutive weeks on an epic vacation. This summer I did a 10-day safari in South Africa followed with two weeks in Europe (Montenegro, Croatia, and Lithuania).

Back in personal training days when I was working with professional athletes, I learned that human performance isn’t linear, it’s cyclical, and we can’t always be in playoff mode.

That’s a fancy way of saying that you need time to recover from periods of high stress so that you can continue performing at your best. Just like you need to take rest days to improve your physical performance, you MUST also take time away from the office so that you can continue to expand and grow your empire.

My biggest epiphanies and breakthroughs come almost exclusively during my downtime away from work, whether it was walking the dog or traveling the world.

I’ve learned throughout the years that intentional vacations (a.k.a. time off that consists of more than sitting in front of the TV and sleeping late) aren’t just a good idea, they are a prescription for your best self – and your best life.  

If you’ve been grinding away on your business for months or years and can’t remember the last time you took a week away from work (let alone three) then this post is for you. To perform at your best and unlock the creative potential inside of you, you must (not should) take time to recharge your batteries and get away from it all.

When you return, you’ll feel more motivated, excited, and prepared to create massive growth in your business so that you can live the life you truly desire.

To help you actually achieve this goal, I’m going to lay out the 5-step system that I personally use to ensure that my business continues to run smoothly while I’m away. If you will take action on what I’m about to share with you, not only will you be able to give yourself the gift of some much needed rest, but you’ll actually be able to earn more money while you take time off.

Sound like a plan? Then read on.

Step #1: Identify Your Biggest Profit Centers

Most entrepreneurs are notoriously bad at assessing what really matters in their business. They get so caught up on minutia like blogging, posting on Facebook, and retweeting the latest infographic that they begin to forget where the money is actually coming from.

Before you can step back and enjoy a few weeks of R&R, you need to take an honest look at your business and ask yourself, “What activities and channels account for 80% of my weekly profits?

For my business, the answer to this question is very clear: Referrals, Facebook Ads, Instagram, and Email. Sure, my YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium accounts are still important channels for traffic, exposure, and a nominal amount of profit. But they are nowhere near as effective at generating profit as my Instagram following and email lists.

Until you know the exact numbers and have a strong understanding of what matters and what doesn’t, your dream vacation will remain exactly that… a dream. So right now, I want you (or your assistant) to take 15 minutes and figure out exactly where the majority of your profits have been generated in the past 8 weeks.

Make sure that you have an accurate understanding of the MOST important things you can do to drive profits before you move on to the next step.

By narrowing down your focus and finding the 2-3 biggest profit centers in your business, you can create bulletproof systems to ensure that your business still generates a healthy profit even while you’re on the road.

Step #2: Front Load Content into Your Money Generation Systems

Once you’ve identified the 2-3 biggest profit centers in your business, you’ll need to spend about one week to successfully front load enough content into those profit centers that your business will continue generating money while you vacation.

For example, in my own business, Instagram is the #1 driver of new profit and revenue. So, anytime I want to take a week or more off, I’ll spend a few days before my vacation creating dozens of stories, posts, and videos that my assistant can upload while I’m gone. This ensures that my account will continue to grow in my absence and the money will continue to pour in.

I’ll also take a few days to write out the drafts for my weekly essays, plan out upcoming email marketing campaigns, and inform my sales reps about any qualified leads or large deals that are in the pipeline.

By taking only a few days before my vacation to front load the coming weeks’ profit-driving content I ensure that I’ll be able to enjoy genuine peace of mind while I’m away.

Step #3: Teach Your Team Members How to Handle Extra Tasks While You’re Away

Once I’ve identified my biggest profit centers and pre-created enough content to “fund” those profit centers while I’m away, I’ll sit down with my team and figure out who can automate or manually handle the publication of that content during my absence.

This is where the rubber really meets the road. Most entrepreneurs operate from the mindset that, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.” and, unfortunately, this is exactly why so many entrepreneurs struggle with burn out, overwhelm, and anxiety.

You’ve already done the hardest part – creating content for your profit centers – and now it’s time to pass the responsibility off to one of your teammates so that you can enjoy a worry-free vacation.

If you are currently a solopreneur, then I recommend finding a VA with a proven track record of success who can handle the administrative tasks required to keep your business running smoothly. I promise, it’s an investment of your time and energy that will generate a massive ROI in peace of mind and freedom from working in your business.

Right now, pull out your calendar and schedule a few hours to sit down with each of your team members 1-on-1 and make sure that they know how to handle all of the tasks that are normally your responsibility.

By ensuring the complete competence of your team, not only will you find numerous activities that can be permanently delegated (more on that in step #5) but you’ll also free yourself from worry and anxiety so you can truly relax while you’re away from your business.

Step #4: Host a Company-Wide Strategy Session

To ensure that your time away runs smoother than the Ferrari 488 that I just drove at a track while visiting Las Vegas, it’s important that you sit down with your entire team for 2-3 hours to go over in painstaking detail the exact plan that needs to be in place for your 21-day absence.

At this point, everyone in your team should already know exactly what tasks they need to handle (and how to handle them) while you’re on vacation. But it’s important that you sit down with the entire team to ensure that you have a cohesive strategy in place before you leave.

Go over every contingency and possible scenario. Discuss things like:

  1. Who is responsible for handling issues that might arise and how much money they are allowed to spend to solve the problem (without asking for your direct permission). Personally, I’ll give my team a $500 “allowance” to solve any unforeseen problems without needing to contact me directly (hat-tip to my old friend Tim Ferriss for teaching me that in The 4-Hour Work Week)
  2. What needs to be done on EVERY day of the week and who needs to do it.
  3. When it is and is not appropriate to contact me to help resolve an issue.
  4. What sort of weekly reporting (if any) I want to receive while I’m away and who’s responsible for sending it
  5. Any questions or concerns that the team might have about handling the day-to-day operations while I’m gone.

This conversation can mean the difference between enjoying a truly restorative 3-weeks and spending your entire “vacation” battling anxiety attacks related to the operation of your business. Be thorough here and make sure that you leave no stone unturned.

The more confident you are in your team’s ability to handle the business while you’re away, the more you’ll be able to enjoy your time off and truly take advantage of the time and space to think and recover.

This is the exact process that I’m following in preparation for my Perfect Life Retreat and, I can tell you from experience, that this one simple step has given me more freedom and peace of mind than any other tactic I’ve implemented.

Finally, I want you to take a DEEP breath, relax, and realize that nothing will kill the business while you’re away because you have all of the systems in place to keep things running smoothly.

Enjoy your vacation, rest, recharge, and give yourself the time to renew your creative energy before implementing the final step.

Step #5: Return, Review, Revise

Upon your return, you’ll want to carve out some time to sit down and review how the business progressed during your absence and talk with your team members about their experience while you were away.

You’ll want to review:

  1. What went well: What systems were executed perfectly? Who handled them? What can you learn from the success to implement in other areas?
  1. What went poorly: You’re going to have small hiccups on this journey. Sit down with your team and identify the issues that arose while you were gone so that you can handle them more effectively next time.
  2. What went flawlessly: What systems were handled so well that you can now pass them off to someone else permanently? What job was done so flawlessly that you’ve realized your team is actually better at it than you are.

Every time I repeat this process it becomes easier and easier. Every year that I’ve returned from my summer vacation, I’ve identified at least one or two tasks that I thought I had to do. However, upon my return I realized that a team member was actually better at handling it than I was, allowing me to permanently remove something from my plate, freeing up time for me to focus on only the most important tasks.

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So there you have it. Your bullet proof 5-step process for enjoying a worry free vacation while your business continues to produce healthy profits.

If you’re a hard charging, empire building entrepreneur it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds and become so trapped by your business that you lose sight of the forest through the trees.

By using this system, you’ll give yourself some much needed time and space to unwind, recharge, and take a more objective look at your business.

Give it a go for yourself and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift to high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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