Time off


As I write this, I am looking forward to leaving tomorrow for three days in California with my best friend, Marilyn, who lives there. It has been months since I have seen her and I can’t wait!

Until the last few years, I have always had a hard time relaxing while on vacations or sometimes even weekend…I am a list keeper and a worrier and often on beach holidays I would be thinking about issues on the job, making new lists and – heaven help me- reading self help books on how to be a better whatever (leader, mother, person..).

It might seem ironic (since aren’t small businesses like a new baby/child), but since owning my own business, I have found it easier to unwind and enjoy time off.


Some of the things that have helped me enjoy down time are:

(1) Building a team that I completely trust. I know this is a huge point which goes way beyond “how to enjoy your vacation” but what tends to cause worry on holidays is what to do about the person or people back at work who are under-performing. So if you make sure that you have the difficult conversations you need to have regularly (see a post on that subject a few weeks back) then that most definitely contributes to peace of mind when you are away from the shop.

(2) As a subset of (1), it is important to delegate as much as possible and sufficiently supervise the success of that delegation until you are really comfortable with how it is being done. Clearly this is not a stop-gap thing the night before you leave for Asia. What I am talking about is ensuring that every team member has as much responsibility as he or she can manage successfully. This frees you up when you ARE at work to focus on strategic things – projects best done by only you-   and also gives you the freedom to leave the business for a day or a week knowing that its operations and daily management are well in hand.

(3) Tie up things as much as possible before you go. I find it exhilarating before I go away (or even before a weekend) to review the projects I am working on and try to take them as far as I can. Better still, I will  pass the baton to someone else to work on while I am away. For example, before this trip, I finished up a franchising document I have been working on and sent it off to a college who had offered to distribute it to alumni. So while I am away, this task won’t be on my mind and there may even be some progress made..by someone else!

(4) When work related thoughts come up for me while I am off, I find they are either “nagging, irritating” ones or “happy, positive” ones. If they are the first type, I may bounce them off my husband briefly if they are really on my mind as I find that is helpful- but then I “firmly” tell myself there is nothing to be done about the issue right now. On the other hand, I don’t try hard to turn off  interesting, creative thinking about work.  Sometimes the best ideas crop up on vacation so I let those thoughts roll until my novel or next meal grabs my attention.

(5) I plan a meeting-free day when I am back at the bakery. With a great team, they will go out of their way to not be in touch while I am away, but there will always be a “Jean list” that they want to go over with me when I am back. Knowing that I have a wide open day to just get caught up with what is new helps me stay relaxed while I am away.

So that’s all I have on this topic!! Off to California and I will post again Monday!

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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