5 Ways For Entrepreneurs To Really Take Time Off At Christmas
5 practical ideas for entrepreneurs to help them to take quality time off over the festive period
Taking time off at Christmas is essential for our wellbeing; it is a time to relax, re-charge and reflect. It is also the time to kick back, have some fun, eat loads and enjoy our loved one’s company! But if you are an entrepreneur; whether a sole trader or the owner of a SME, it is often a time of guilt, worry, mixed sometimes with mild panic.
We feel guilty as we feel we should be working 24/7. We worry about what we are missing, what we will return to. And panic, because guilt and worry generally lead here, as we spend Christmas fearing what we will return to come January 2nd.
Let’s make 2017 the year we really take time to relax so that we are more focused and fresh for the year ahead. Here are 5 practical ways to help you to do just this.
In the run up to Christmas ask yourself if there is anything you could outsource to free up your time. This could be household tasks; so many SME owners are women who are often juggling the home and family commitments as well as their business ones. Consider doing the present shopping online or asking family members to bring a dish on Christmas Day to help ease the mental load. Or it could be business tasks such as paying a freelance writer to create content for a month for your website or getting a VA to manage your inbox for a few weeks.
We tend to want to do everything ourselves but to truly take a business forward and to have time to plan, review as well as relax we need to accept that delegation or outsourcing is key.
Clearing your inbox
Clearing your inbox always feels like such a huge task that can leave us feeling overwhelmed, which will not help when we want to relax over Christmas. Before you sign off this year, commit to one action for every email in your inbox – I choose to Delete, File or Unsubscribe.
Go through each email and press delete if you don’t need it. Set up folders for all projects and file anything needed after you have answered the email itself. Often, we tend to read an email, but forget to answer it or action it so now is your chance. Finally, if you didn’t want the email in the first place, hit unsubscribe. Take this time to check your junk file too and delete the lot! Finally, add an out of office massage and switch off. You will need to do this on your Messenger too if you use this.
For anyone who simply cannot leave their inbox unattended over Christmas, I suggest you set up a folder called To Action; then when you check your emails, either delete them, or add anything that needs your attention on return into the new folder with the aim that your inbox remains at zero. This simplified way of working will really help with the panic feeling we experience, but also a great intention to continue into 2018.
Schedule your communications
Every business relies on the use of social media, newsletters and even blogging to promote their services and sell more products which needs to continue over the Christmas period. To be able to switch off and to take a digital detox to help slow down your mind, you will need to schedule everything in advance.
Sit down now and design a plan for what you want to communicate over the period considering that most people are also relaxing so do not want to be bombarded with selling messages (unless you are having a bumper Sale of course). Consider what you want to say on the important days such as Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve – think celebratory messages, thank you messages and wishing people well rather than selling to them.
There are scheduling tools for social media such as Hootsuite, newsletter sites such as Mailchimp that allow you to decide when you want emails to be delivered and all blog posts can be set up to post later too. If you don’t have the time to do all this upfront consider outsourcing to someone else, or simply communicate less to your customers/followers over this period.
Deciding to have a digital detox this year to give your brain the time to switch off and to see all the wonderful things around you will make such a difference to you and your families experiences. If this is too much for you, simply commit to only sharing the fun stuff such as how pretty the decorations are rather than trying to sell.
Set expectations in advance
Tell everyone from the offset when you will and will not be working; this includes family as well as customers. Communicate via your website and social media when your business is closing, and when it will be reopening. If you sell products, make it clear what communication customers can expect from you and what your returns policies are.
Sit down with your family and tell them your plans, whether it to work a few hours over the time off or if you intend to not work at all. Ask for their support too, as it is hard to switch off, such as allowing you the time to file your emails or gently reminding you of your intentions.
I always use this down time to clarify my personal and work goals for the year ahead, and everyone is clear that I will be doing this, so they give me the space for this to happen. I use a notepad rather than my pc, as this way I can be truly creative without being tempted to start on all that admin!
Be kind to yourself
Finally, be kind to yourself. If you intend to 100% switch off and don’t manage it, then this is OK! If you want a digital detox but find yourself scrolling through Instagram, then don’t beat yourself up. You love what you do so it is hard to fully take time off, but do try and start again with your plans if you falter.
Try not to look at what everyone else is doing as you will end up comparing yourself, leading to more stress. If your competitor has content written and scheduled for everyday and you haven’t, do not panic. Take the time to congratulate yourself on what you have achieved and remember that the most important thing this time of year is to truly appreciate what and who you have in your life.