With all the excitement and build-up to Christmas in full swing, business owners across the country will be looking forward to taking some well-earned time off before jumping into the new year with renewed enthusiasm. At least, that’s the plan.
No matter how busy your business or how critical your role, it’s important to take the time out at the tail end of the year. This isn’t just for some well-needed R&R, but also to give yourself some breathing space to step back and reflect on the success of the previous year, thinking about how you can take any lessons from the year forward.
Remember: business may slow down, but you’re entitled to take the time off without feeling bad about it. Not taking that much-needed downtime can lead to burnout, and the last thing you want to do is hinder your future performance by over-working yourself.
The world will keep turning if your business is shut for the festive period, though it’s understandable if you want to keep things ticking over while the workplace is shut. As such, striking a balance is necessary. Read on for some ideas.
1. Be clear with your priorities
If work keeps getting in the way of your festive downtime, try to shift it forward where possible. Try to gauge how important or urgent it is; chances are, it can wait until you’re back at work full-time before it needs to be picked up.
This is an important attitude in the time leading up to the break as much as it is during – at least a couple of weeks before, decide what absolutely does need ticking off your list and what can be handled later down the line. Giving yourself time to consider these things will save a frantic rush to wrap everything up on Christmas Eve.
2. Think customer first
Whether you’re retail, service based or production, it’s likely your opening hours will change over the festive period. Think early on about how you can best communicate that to your customers (and potential customers) to let them know when you’ll be back at the office full-time.
If you’re operating on reduced hours over Christmas, you can post your temporary hours on your social media channels. Keep these pinned to the top of your stream or page so that anyone checking your channels sees them first.
Alternatively, if your business is completely closed throughout the festive period, having your out-of-office email response on will let people know when you’re back open for business.
3. But keep staff high on your list, too
If you have a team, remember that they need a break just as much as you. When it comes to annual leave, try to coordinate time-off early so everyone gets their fair break with advanced notice so they can make personal plans with family or friends.
Consider a gesture to say thanks and spread some good-will amongst your team at a time when all hands are on deck (the good news is that your Christmas party is probably tax deductible).
4. Tactically shut down some channels (temporarily)
Give yourself the chance to decompress over the Christmas and New Year period, too. While you may want to keep an eye on your social media channels and emails, you don’t want to be glued to them. Try limiting yourself to a window to check and chase things (for example, 7am-9am) and then give yourself the rest of the day free of distractions.
Alternatively, if you have a team, arrange a shift system. Perhaps you take one for the team and keep your phone on during Christmas Day, but somebody else takes Boxing Day – or you divvy up mornings and afternoons.
But the best way to switch off is to set a precedent and only respond to urgent queries or requests. For those which aren’t time-sensitive, have a couple of polite stock phrases ready for email and social media requests so you can respond with ease without giving your customers an ‘out of office’ reply. Your emails will still be in the inbox come 2nd January, and you can revert to work mode then.
5. Remember it’s your holiday too
Most importantly, try to enjoy the downtime. Once you’ve sorted your customers, suppliers and team members, it’s time to turn the focus to yourself. The holidays only come around once a year, and the daily grind will start back up again soon enough. Enjoy your hard-earned time off!