The holiday season is once again here, and with it comes time to relax, focus on family and friends and take stock in what is really important in life. Unless you're a small business owner. Every small business owner knows that being away from the office can be just as stressful as being in it.
Phone calls from employees dealing with a minor crisis will pull your focus from your family, or your Christmas dinner will be taken over by business talk. Like the merry bells of Christmas, your cell phone will constantly chime with the sounds of urgent text messages and emails that must be dealt with. Clients will need your attention.
It's easy to let business take over personal life, but as a small business owner it's vital that you get some time away from work.
Here are some tips for helping you switch off during the holidays.
1. Shut down entirely for the week
If your business can be shut down for a week, consider closing from Christmas to New Years. Your employees will love the time off and you won't be bothered with urgent texts about something that just went wrong at the office. This time is generally not as productive for workers anyhow, as they all want to get home, be with loved ones, and celebrate the season.
Just make sure you give your clients some notice that you're closing up. Good clients will respect your decision and even encourage it.
2. Have someone trained to deal with your absence
A big headache for small business owners is constant calls from employees who can't carry out basic tasks or make decisions. If you plan on taking time off but are leaving the business open, have someone senior available to answer questions or take over duties other employees can't.
Make sure employees are prepared for situations that could arise, but they can fix on their own. Can they use someone else's computer if theirs dies? If a client calls with a crisis, which staff members can deal with each situation?
Assign one or two people—not you—to be contact people in case staff needs assistance and give those two people strict instructions about when they can contact you. You don't need phone calls on your days off because someone doesn't know how to work the coffee machine.
3. Resist the urge to plan meetings during this time
When a client comes to you just before you take your days off and requests a meeting over the holidays, it can be difficult to resist that urge. That meeting, however, will take up time and space in your brain aside from the actual meeting time. You'll prepare for it, you'll think about it, you'll plan what to say. If the meeting doesn't go well, it will affect the rest of your days off.
Instead, push the meeting until after the holidays. Unless the situation is dire, an extra week won't hurt. Or ask another worker to attend the meeting for you.
If you're taking time over the holidays, really take time. Don't take time off but then spend that time constantly checking for work-related texts and emails or attending meetings. Put your cell phone away. Stop checking your email. Set an outgoing email that lets people know when you'll respond to their messages and change your voicemail to note your days off. That way you can rest, relax, and enjoy your break.
If you're a small business owner, you'll need this time to restore your energy for January. Now go hide your cell phone.