Nothing destroys a cool day of vacation like having to put out a fire at work. Unless all is quiet on the home front, it’s hard to truly immerse yourself in the relaxing world of sunshine, SPF 45, and yes, giant pool floats.

If you don’t think completely unplugging is a big deal, keep this in mind: time off from work is actually good for you. It can make you more creative, and the stress reduction lowers your likelihood of developing heart disease. Plus, when business owners step away, it can also have a positive effect on the rest of the team.

To give yourself the distraction-free getaway you’ve been dreaming about, put your back office tasks on autopilot before you ever hit the beach. Here’s how:

Nominate a stand-in

To completely free yourself from bookkeeping and accounting tasks while you’re gone, find someone to step in and handle the responsibilities so you don’t have to.

Whether you nominate a full-time employee or part-timer, make sure you brief them thoroughly so they know how to handle all the accounting work on your behalf. Depending on what your business does, this can include things like:

  • Payroll
  • Tracking expenses
  • Reimbursing employees
  • Preparing monthly financial statements
  • Filing quarterly estimated taxes

Also, make sure your stand-in is clear on what does and what doesn’t constitute an emergency. A simple list will help them suss out what they should contact you for. Trust us — you don’t want someone frantically texting you while you’re busy sipping piña coladas.

Prepare your payroll

Make sure your payroll service is teed up to run in your absence. It’s a good idea to send a quick email to whoever manages your payroll, letting them know you’ll be gone and for how long. Give them your contact information, along with clear instructions on when they should and shouldn’t reach out to you.

payroll pointers

Check in with your bookkeeper

Similar to payroll, it’s also wise to set your bookkeeping to autopilot while you’re gone. If you work with a bookkeeper or online bookkeeping service, let them know how long you’ll be away, and put them in touch with the person who’s taking over.

Generally, your bookkeeper will be able to manage your books and prepare your monthly financial statements even when you’re not there. That said, making sure they know you’re on vacation will prevent them from interrupting your much-needed time away from the business.

Wrap up invoicing and payments

Invoicing clients and collecting payments is a grind, even when you’re not somewhere exotic. Fortunately, FreshBooks lets you schedule invoices in advance so you don’t have to stress. Use the service to invoice clients before you head out, and they’ll automatically send a gentle nudge to anyone who misses their deadline until all payments are received.

While you’re at it, double check that you’re up to date on any outstanding or incoming payments you owe other business owners. It’s one less thing you’ll need to worry about while you’re gone. And not to mention, it’s simply good karma.

You can also escape the office with a clean slate by wrapping up any outstanding invoices. If you’ve completed work and need to invoice clients, do so well before you queue up your OOO message.

Give customers a heads up

Before embarking on your trip, send out a mass email to any clients you’re in touch with on a regular basis. Here’s a sample email you can use:

Dear [name of client],

Hope you’re enjoying the day!

I’m emailing to let you know that I will be away from the office from [leave date] to [return date]. I’ve handed off all important information and duties to [name of coworker]. If you need anything, while I am away, [name of coworker] will be happy to help you out.

Otherwise, I’ll get back to you when I return!


[your name]

For larger customers or clients, consider writing a personal email. If necessary, include a bulleted list letting them know what you’re currently working on for them. This will reduce the likelihood that they’ll reach out to you with questions.

Bookkeeping bliss = vacation bliss. Your time away is important for your mental and physical health, so do what you can to make it count. Use the services above, get organized in advance, and be crystal clear with people about when and how you should be reached while you’re out. That way, nothing will get in the way of your hard-earned slice of paradise.

Bryce Warnes Bryce is a writer for Bench, the online bookkeeping service that pairs you with a team of professional bookkeepers who do your bookkeeping, so you don’t have to.
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