This is an article from our regular real estate columnist Rachelle

I’ve been self employed for most of my career. It can be very exciting at times and offers a lot of freedom with your time that conventional employment doesn’t. You must also have an inordinate amount of faith in yourself and what you are doing. Whenever you start a business it takes a long time to get established and during this period you will often be labouring on your own, by yourself, and the only way through is to put one foot in front of the other.

Kevin O’Leary for example developed his educational software in his parents’ basement. I’ll bet his mother asked him more than once when he was going to get a real job. Most successful entrepreneurs have similar stories.

Leasing Business

In my business of leasing apartments there is a lot of waiting and being patient involved. I spend most of my time waiting for prospective tenants to call, keeping myself available to show the places when people want to see them, which is usually evenings and weekends after work.

Property Management

The business of property management is very similar. If you have great tenants who pay the rent there’s little to do on a daily basis. If you do property management properly, it’s pretty boring.


Then there’s times when being in business is exciting such as last year in July and August when I received no phone calls to rent any apartments at all. I can assure you that it was very unpleasant. The word panic comes to mind! After being through a drought like that one, you find it very difficult to turn down work.

Availability When You’re An Entrepreneur

I’m not sure you noticed a trend but most of my work involves being available to do things and not very much doing. This means that I am on call for extended hours both for potential tenants and owners. Renting property is time sensitive. No owner wants to sign a listing then discover that I’m taking a hiatus. In many cases they hire me because they are not sufficiently available. I am rarely without apartments to rent and I have properties to manage so this usually means no vacations for me.

When I was in the construction business, it was pretty much the same. It was a different business but the same concept. Until your business gets to a certain size, it becomes very difficult to take time off. By then, micromanaging becomes a habit.

Staff  Taking Your Place

What about staff? Well any small business owner can tell you that no one cares about your business like you do. If your staff had the skills that you do in problem solving, or your work ethic, they’d be perfectly suited to start their own business and they probably would.


So what leads me to write an article about vacations? This is a subject I know almost nothing about. Last week I took off for a few days to visit my family. They live in Northern Ontario. Across the street from my childhood home is a beautiful deep lake perfect for swimming. Then my mom took me blueberry picking out in the woods. I spent another day boating around on Lake Temagami ( .  My mom and sister decided they needed a bunch of driftwood so we went to a nice beach and picked up sticks for a while.

My phone and email didn’t work up there. It was awesome to be free of these devices. I truly got to rest my brain.

Benefits of Vacation

  1. Mental Rest
  2. Reinvigoration
  3. Passion for your work
  4. Good ideas
  5. Doing different activities

Taking Care of Your Best Asset – YOU

If you are self-employed, you are the business. Taking good care of yourself is of utmost importance. No right-minded business owner would expect even the most devoted employee to work the way they expect themselves to work. You are your most valuable asset.

Creative Thinking

Drudgery is the enemy of creative thinking and ideas. I have good ideas on a regular basis and those ideas don’t come from thinking hard. None of my creative ideas  come to me while I’m actively thinking about them.  Most of my eureka moments actually happen while I’m showering.

If I’m gnawing on a tricky problem, I read up on all the conventional information then when my brain feels so full it’s going to explode with relevant information and I’m starting to think in circles and totally frustrated with my inability to figure things out, I’ll go take a shower and stop thinking about it.

Research Other Industries

I have also found that reading and learning about other industries and businesses is very helpful. Often times reinterpreting solutions used in other circumstances and applying those ideas to your business can be very helpful. Chances are that someone somewhere has tackled a problem and solved it.

Accidental Innovation

Many innovations come from accidents or adversity. In the case of penicillin a bunch of mouldy oranges contaminated Alexander Fleming’s experiment. This has also proved true for me as well.  For instance, I started writing when my husband became ill several months ago. I discovered a skill I didn’t even know I had.

More Vacations For Me

Even though it’s impossible for me to take several weeks or a month off of work, I’ll be taking more days off, shutting off the phone and giving myself the rest I need. If you consider that not thinking about a problem leads to creative solutions, perhaps getting away from your business is the best way to run your business. Lesson learned for me. This way I can be more creative and ready to tackle anything my business has in store for me.

While I’m not ready to stop working hard, I’m willing to try to take it easier and enjoy myself more often doing activities that have nothing to do with real estate in order to be better at real estate. That’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one. I can’t argue that I did come up with a number of new ideas on marketing my business. Now that I’m rested I’m excited to try them out!

What do you think?

Is it possible that not working occasionally and taking vacations will lead to better productivity and creative ideas?

About the Author: Rachelle specializes in renting property on behalf of landlords and is the blogger behind Landlord Rescue. She also works with investors to find good investments in Toronto and surrounding areas. Her passion is bringing multi res properties back from the brink and maximizing profitability. Check out some of her other real estate posts on MDJ.


  1. FrugalTrader on July 13, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Quiet bunch today! I’m with you Rachelle. I find that quiet time is the time when I come up with my creative ideas… for example, ideas for blog posts etc. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of free time to go around!

  2. Rachelle on July 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    This post is going over like a lead balloon FT :)

    People who are creative hate to admit that they get their idea in unconventional places… They do the footwork, fill their minds with all the traditional information and usually try thinking about the problem. True innovation comes from leaps of intuition that come from a different part of the brain, the subconscious part.

    You’ll hear about people who have a writing pad next to their bed and write down any ideas that come to mind, or brainstorming sessions where people are encouraged to come up with silly ideas to solve problems.

    People love logical thinking, it’s simple, it’s straightforward and it makes sense. People are not logical thought, problems aren’t straightforward. Some solutions are counterintuitive.

    Who would have thought that the greatest advance in medicine would have been born of a moldy orange? Ironically it was discovered once he returned from vacation!

  3. Jerry on July 13, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I think this is a great post, but maybe kinda quiet because perhaps everyone else on here usually works hard? Perhaps nobody who comes on here regularly knows how to take vacations. :)

  4. MakingAMillionDollars on July 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I completely agree that you need a break and that this can be the best time for creative thinking. My wife and I love Key West. It is the one place on the earth you can go and really relax, kick back and not think about anything stressful. I find sipping on my favorite drink, eating good food and doing the Duval walk all lead to some great ideas when I actually get back to work. Just thinking about going on vacation has put me in a better frame of mind, thanks ;)

  5. James on July 13, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    i am a huge believer in rest and relaxation helps you achieve your goals and refills your metal energy tank.

    this is a great piece of advice and i strongly recommend that we all take some time to enjoy the fruits of our labor :)

  6. Invest It Wisely on July 13, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Taking time to travel and taking a vacation can be one of the best ways to recharge, explore a new place, and experience something new. It’s up to the person to make the best of it though; some people go to the same place year after year and spend all their time in resorts.

    I have learned a lot of things from my own limited travel experience, and to me, it’s one of the best things you can do in your life. :)

  7. Tampa Chiropractor on July 13, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    The only way that I seem to make money on a vacation if I go to the casino and win some money, other than that, I lose money on a vacation

  8. Jenna on July 14, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Definitely taking mental breaks and getting away from work is helpful. I like being able to disconnect, go camping for example, which is pretty cheap and allows you to actually hide from your email and cell phone and spend quality time with family and friends.

  9. Ms Save Money on July 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I would love nothing more than to be an entrepreneur. Albeit, I’ll probably have to do it on the side until I come up w/ something great enough to cover my living expenses. It can be a great learning experience and I figured if I’m able to learn from my mistakes and improve, then I must be heading in the right direction.

  10. Moneyedup on July 18, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    There are many “paycations” out there. Paycations are vacations where you go to a remote location to do a new job for a short period of time. For example, I went to England to work as a camp counsellor one summer and earned more than enough money to pay for my trip and to enjoy some sight seeing in other countries in Europe. There are lots of other opportunities out there, involving fruit picking, or teaching English. You can get a break from your day to day responsibilities, learn something new, meet new people and go to a new place, and then return to your job with renewed energy.

  11. Clean Credit Report on July 25, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    One of my biggest regrets is that after selling my business I did not take an extensive vacation and get my mind out of the rut it had fallen into over years so as to get a fresh take on life. Totally agree with this concept on whatever level of time- short or long.

  12. NM on July 30, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    When I read the title of this article I thought you were referring to a new money making strategy I have recently taken advantage of… Vacation Renting my primary residence. This is one way to REALLY make money while on vacation. While my wife and I have spent a substantial number of weeks away this summer, we have covered all of our household expenses, vacation costs, with a little left over!! All by renting out our home while we are out of town. It may have been a tad risky, but in the end it worked and we are financially better off for it.

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