As most people get ready to slow down and switch off for Christmas, the rest of us, the small business owners and the entrepreneurs of the world, are working hard to keep their business on track. Whether you simply can’t take time off—or just can’t convince yourself to—minimising stress and making time for self-care is important.
Here are 15 ways to ease the stress and help you survive the silly season.
15. Get into the spririt
As a small business owner, you have less time to enjoy the season—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get into the spirit in any way possible. Put up the Christmas decorations, turn on festive lights or put a snow globe on your desk. Heck as much as I hate tinsel...even string a bit of tinsel across your doorway.
14. Take (and give) time off
If at all possible, plan to shut down on the actual holiday(s) that matter to you. Most of your customers will be doing the same, so take the opportunity while you can. It's also important for you to support your staff through the silly season. If there are any special needs, shifts or leave requirements they have, then do your best to accommodate them?
13. Cut back on hours
Even if you or your employees skip out an hour early a few days per week or you decide to try out a four-day workweek, those few extra hours of free time can dramatically reduce stress and make it easier for everyone to focus on the job.
12. Become a stickler for breaks
Scheduling even just a few minutes to take a breather improves productivity and reduces fatigue. Take the time to reconnect your team with a morning tea, a secret Santa, a movie review session anything that allows you to have a few minutes break at the workplace. It also creates opportunities for everyone to connect and engage in some non-work chatter.
11. You are not Wonder Woman or Superman
This one is probably a tricky one, we small business owners are used to doing everything ourselves. But learn to delegate and your life will become a lot less stressful so why not practice with some small holiday tasks.
You’re running a business, but you're not a superhero. You can't buy all the gifts, organise the family get-togethers or host everyone without some help. If you have a partner and kids, ask your other half to handle shopping, get the kids to do the laundry. If you’re part of a big family, get them to bring a dish to lunch or dinner, don’t plan to cook everything yourself.
10. Start your day with some exercise
Start your day off with a shot of endorphins to power through the day and sleep better at night. Take the dog for a walk, ride a bike with the kids, do an at-home workout video or burn off steam at the gym. And if that doesn't work, have some coffee!
9. Stop adding to your calendar
The year is almost over—it’s ok to tell people “no” or push meeting requests to the beginning of next year. It’s also ok to turn down social requests. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many lunches and catch-ups you can fit into it. If it’s not necessary and/or exciting, it doesn’t need to be in your calendar.
8. Try your hand at meditating
You don’t need to go full-blown guru, but try taking five minutes to sit back, relax and clear your mind. Might sound silly, but it will make tackling that to-do list that much easier.
7. Help reduce others’ stress
Giving back—whether to charity, people in your network and/or your employees—feels good and acts as a reminder that you aren’t alone.
Maybe offer to coach fellow entrepreneurs to help them make the most of the upcoming new year, consider offering extended lunch breaks to your staff so they can tackle their Christmas to-do list or give your team a hand to identify tasks that don’t have to be completed this year. Oh and don't forget a small token of thanks.
6. Reconsider your catch-up plans
Sure, you want to see Grandma and you want to catch-up with all your friends during the Christmas period, but stretching yourself is only going to create stress and lesson the value of these catch-ups.
Instead, make plans to travel during January once everything calms down. It will give you something to look forward to now and act as a reward for all your hard work during December. And bonus: You’ll probably be able to take off more than a weekend.
5. Rethink your own to-do list …
Take a long, hard look at your list of tasks and pinpoint things that you really don’t need to do right this second. Then, push those tasks to your January list.
4. … And make it more enjoyable
Unfortunately, you (probably) can’t just skip the last month of the year and still maintain a healthy business. But you can make work more fun. Blast holiday music in the office, take your laptop to a local coffee shop to respond to emails, create theme days (ugly holiday sweaters seem to be a thing at the moment) etc. Anything you can do to make the next few weeks more enjoyable will reduce stress.
3. Step away from the electronics
If you’re like me, you’re probably looking at one or more screens at any given time. Whether you make it a point to curl up with a book (away from the television) or set down your phone and walk around the office for 15 minutes, give yourself an electronic timeout.
2. Don’t apologise for taking time off
Give clients, customers and suppliers advance notice that you’ll be shortening hours and/or out of office, but don’t feel bad about it.
Most importantly, if you have employees, make sure that they know you expect them to enjoy Christmas with family and friends and will support them as much as possible in doing so.
1. Stay connected to the right things
Don’t spend Christmas day checking emails, following the socials or making phone calls when you should be connecting with your family. When you’re off, you’re off—work can wait.