Stay on top of your game – even during your holiday Posted by: | June 22, 2014

It’s vacation season in Vietnam! And while my staff and everyone else around me leaves town for the beach one after another, I have always hesitated to travel and leave my business alone. This is the common fear that most entrepreneurs like me or bosses would struggle with. I remember my ex-boss always had a ton of leave days because he could just not bring himself to leave work (and us) alone – every month there is a new excuse not to go on holiday. I am guilty as charged as well. I hardly ever left town for the past 2 years running my business! I grew up travelling the world, but ever since becoming an entrepreneur, I hate travelling and have crazy anxiety just with thoughts of leaving my business alone. 


All that changed this year when I decided to get into a long distance relationship with the Man in Singapore, and I am forced to squeeze short trips into my busy schedule every other month to see him to keep the relationship alive. Being an entrepreneur can tie you down, but if you really make an effort, your schedule can open up and be more flexible than anyone in a corporate job can dream of. Just over 4 months, I have been to Singapore 3 times! Last week I came back from a whirlwind trip to Hong Kong with the Man where he also proposed (I know, ain’t that fast?? But more on that in future posts!). With the frequent trips, I have finally learnt the strategies to keep business as usual while I’m away, and even staying on top of the game, without having to obsessively checking my emails for news from my staff at home (then you might as well stay home to avoid all that worries and stress). After all, the whole point of a holiday is to refresh your body and soul, have a peace of mind and be 100% present for the new environment that is there for your pure enjoyment.



Classified Cafe – Hollywood road, Hong Kong.


What I realized is, time away from my business not only did not put it in danger, but actually added more innovation and long term vision to the whole picture. So my advice to fellow obsessive entrepreneurs/bosses like me is: get away to get some much needed sanity and perspective! If you find yourself worrying during the trip or hyperventilating before the trip (I still get pre-trip anxiety EVERY SINGLE time), here are a few pointers to make the most out of the time out of town, be it a holiday or a short work cum play trip: 


  • Don’t check your email unless it is a matter of life and death. But do leave an option for urgencies (phone/FB etc). Tell your team to contact you at discretion and only when absolute necessary. I still struggle with this as I know hundreds of emails build up in my inbox everyday if left unchecked – but after leaving it alone for a few days, the anxiety goes away. And really, nothing happened that my team could not handle on their own (go team!). 
  • Set a limit to the damage you are willing to take when you are away. For example, matters below 300 dollars can be settled by your team without your approval or notice. There are only that many bad financial decisions your people can make with 300 dollars. Suck it in, let it go. Don’t sweat it. 
  • Don’t try to force yourself to not think about work. When thoughts about work occur, embrace them and be with them until they fade off. Suppression of thoughts can lead to stress as well, causing you to not fully enjoy the time away. Be there for your thoughts 100%, and when they go, be back for your holiday 100% without any guilt. 
  • Get inspired! Be it a brand, a dish, a shop or a location – let yourself be inspired by new things away from your usual environment. This is crucial if you need to create and innovate in your work! I love getting inspired by different cafes and neighborhoods I visit. (e.g. NYC, Hong Kong, Singapore…). Even the most unrelated things could spark a new idea for your next campaign, product or service. 


My favorite food in Hong Kong is the local breakfast!

  • Share your joy! It is important for yourself, as a boss, to be having guilt-free fun as well. We are as fun loving as everyone is, and now is our time to make our staff jealous! This is when your Instagram account comes in really handy… 
  • Carry a book with you that will keep you inspired and motivated – it is important to remember your purpose, vision and goals even during your holiday, so we know what we are coming home for. I carry my meditation and motivational books on my iPad everywhere I go! 
  • When you return – resist the temptation to open your emails the moment you get home. You will kill all the desired effect from the holiday the moment you hit the doorstep. Take your time after the returning flight to relax, let the trip sink in, and have an early night rest to be ready and fully recharged for work the next day. 
  • When you get to office – again, resist checking your email first thing you get there. Talk to your team to get the latest updates, and take that time to share with them the experiences of your trip and what you have learnt, while the memories are still fresh. After a good talk with the team, you can be assured that 80% of the emails will not require your attention as it has been dealt with by your capable team. With a clear mind, write down your important to-dos for the coming weeks post-trip. THEN you can check your email and get thrown back into the jungle. 


Me having my favorite snack in Singapore – Prata!


I hope this helped you get into the right frame of mind to plan your next vacation this Summer. Remember, don’t worry about what you would miss, but think about what you would gain – memories, delicious food, quality time with yourself and your loved one, and inspirations for your work for years to come. I finally see it now, and hope you will too ;) 


Stay tuned for next week entry, when I continue my post about how to stay fit, part 2! 





2 Responses to “Stay on top of your game – even during your holiday”

  1. Hải Anh (Annie) says:

    Can you believe that I always wait to read your posts? So inspiring. Btw, I thought I saw the blink on your finger in your instagram picuter and I was right ;).

    This post is so helpful for me particularly. Even though I’m not even a boss or business owner but I have never been able to take days off vacation since I started working. Now that I’m in a start-up company, this anxiety to leave work behind and travel brings me even more stress than the actual work itself. I’ll try your steps for my next travel to see if that helps.

    • Chi Anh says:

      Aww thanks, I was hoping more people would relate to my blog even if they are non entrepreneurs! Thanks for reading, and yes you were right about the ring ;) I have been through what you are facing. It is very nerve racking to leave work, esp in a start up company. I have serious travel anxiety and it is not even funny. However, it takes effort to enjoy your holiday, and I hope we will all learn to enjoy it better with each time!

Leave a Reply