When you work for someone else you can take sick, vacation or personal time but when you work for yourself it’s not always easy to take a day or week off.

One of my clients, a mom with a part time job and her own business is using every single spare second she has to work on her business. This week a slight family situation occurred that required her attention and no one else’s. Her week took an unexpected turn and everything she had planned to do fell by the wayside.  It turned out the situation was relatively minor but it threw her entire week off balance leaving her stressed and distressed.

Handling a sudden turn of events or crisis can be stressful especially when you lay it on top of an already busy life.  So how do you set up your business so you can quickly get back on track after solving the unexpected situation?

Here are several tips to help:

  1. Preparation. Life happens. We can’t plan all of the twists and turns it takes and that’s part of the beauty of it. But having your business set up so that you can better manage life events without bursting into tears should be one of your goals. Take a look at the current state of your business, do you have an action plan in place that allows you to take time off? If not then you need to address this right away.
  2.  Plan. Take the time to place all of your vacations, doctors appointments, family events, kids activities, hair appointments, holidays, date night–and a full day off every week, into your schedule. Then build in a small amount of unplanned time. This is what I call your bonus time. It’s the time you can use any way you choose. This way if you have a crisis that comes up you can dip into this bonus time and use it for catch up if necessary.
  3. Be as organized as possible. When something suddenly comes up and you’re trying to get back to the tasks at hand it’s easier to get back in the flow when your business is orderly and organized, this way you can pick up right where you left off and don’t have to lose precious time.
  4. Have an assistant…Virtual or otherwise. It took be a while to realize the importance of having an assistant. In the beginning I wasn’t making any money so I thought how could I possibly pay someone more than I was making? Not only is it a smart business decision financially–you’ll be able to work on more money generation activities when you outsource what you’re not good at and takes a great deal of time; but you’ll also have someone who can run business behind the scenes while you’re attending to your personal and private life.
  5. Assistants need assistants.  I have mentored quite a few virtual assistants and what I’ve come to realize is that many of them are so focused on assisting others that they neglect to have someone assisting them as well. Whether it’s having your own assistant or outsourcing tasks that you prefer not to manage don’t under estimate the need for having someone support you to help you better manage the back end of your business.
  6. Get back in the saddle. Once the situation is resolved then get back to working in your business. Address your finances first, your customers next and then your prospects and additional projects. If there was a sudden disruption in the service you provide to your clients then contact them immediately and make sure you’re addressing their needs and concerns first. If necessary, apologize for the sudden disruption and advise them that you’ve got everything under control–then get back to providing what it is you do and deliver it.


Take an honest look at your business, do you have it set up so that if you need to take personal or sick time then you’re prepared? Carefully evaluate what you need to do to set it up so that you can take time off whether it be vacation, sick or personal time.  Create a policy for yourself that you adhere to–you’ll be grateful you did it the next time you need to take time off.

Your Turn:

I’d love to hear in the comments below if you’ve ever had to take time off to handle a personal situation suddenly. How did you handle it? Better yet, how did your clients/customers react?


Is the back-end of your business set up well? What if you could set up your business so that it was easier to manage and didn’t cause you as much stress? Then check out my “Stand Out Solopreneur” 6 month program. It’s personalized attention to help you set up your business and keep it on the rise while you still enjoy your life.  Book a complimentary strategy session and learn how to better balance your business and personal life here now




  1. Great tips! For 2 years, these unexpected events have come up: broken bones rendering toddlers at home and not in nursery, hospitalizations, and countless other incidents and disasters, lol!

    At any rate love the tips use them all aside from an assistant but as I take things to the next level, this is the route I will go.

    The 2 tips I would add is if there are things in advance you can do in, do them. For me it was having several blog post articles stock piled. And the second is not to over commit to projects. I just wrote a post on this :). Backing down on projects and ensuring I align my projects for the biz/life and otherwise with my longterm goals really helps!

    Take care,

    • Hi Rajka,
      I love the two tips you added. Yes, the blog posts and articles stock piled is a help. I do the same. In fact I chunk many of my like tasks and get them done at the same time each week.

      Oh–I’m so glad you said that about the alignment. I 100% agree with you. I used to take on everything. Now I’m very selective.


  2. Setting up my business now after 26 years in corporate America. Thanks for the reminder Jeannie that I have NOT slotted in time for the unexpected. How foolish. Thanks for the post.

    • Rich,
      Coming from corporate I think you can appreciate you need to schedule your vacation time well in advance. The problem is that I think we take our time off for granted. Don’t forget to book your time off well in advance and also have a cushion. It’s also helpful when your business gets to a certain point to have a Virtual Assistant support you.

      Congrats on starting your business.

  3. Thanks for sharing that Courtney, I think a lot of us hold on to work and tasks because it feels easier not to delegate but in reality it’s a good idea to have a back up plan.

    Hope you’re feeling better and are also able to come up with a good process for you and your team.

  4. Life does happen! and when it does, it helps not to fight it and add more stress to your life. I create systems for everything I do which helps me minimize my time and efforts. I can do a lot of my business stuff by pressing a button but I had to get all these systems in place and invest time in the beginning. If life happens to me now, I am prepared to detach while my business functions without me.

  5. Love this post Jeannie! I always remember my mentor telling me to schedule in my vacation and time off at the start of every quarter for the next three months. It's made a big difference to me about scheduling my work and gives me much needed time off. With 2 young kids, it's easy to get caught up in other things such as "life" and it's great to tell them "Mom is taking the day off to do something extra fun with you" and not have to worry about work. Great reminder Jeannie!

    • That’s fantastic that you build it in regularly Ana–I schedule my vacations months ahead of time and there is no cancelling those plans. We all need re-charge time that’s for sure!

  6. Hi Jeanne, This was a great piece. I find that doing my to-do lists on a daily basis helps me when emergencies come up. Looking at my list and knowing what priorities need to get done and the ones that can wait help me keep my business flowing smoothly. As you said, preparation, planning and organizing are key!

  7. It seems everyone in the house took turns being home sick, including me! It took 3 week and I got very little accomplished on my business other than teaching and getting the most critical things done. Now that we’re healthy I feel like a hamster on a wheel catching up. But I realized the other day, and your post really reinforces this, that I had fallen off my strict daily routine. I had started to let things slide a bit and that snowballed when everyone got sick. Now that school vacation week is wrapping up I’m focused on getting back on track and I love the idea of planning some ‘bonus’ time in my routine to help me out when things just don’t go as planned.

    • Gail,
      Good for you, you obviously have set in intention to get it all back together. So sorry you and your gang were not well for a few weeks but I do believe it just means you have to come up with a game plan to prepare for situations like this.

      Yes, the ‘Bonus’ time has saved me quite a few times!

      Take Care!

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