how to really switch off this Christmas as a small business owner

Are you taking time off for the holidays this year? Or do you feel like you can’t afford to, and that you should keep working? These tips will help you to really switch off this Christmas–without the guilt or pressure.

Running my own business is something I really love to do. I love writing blogposts, working with clients and creating valuable content for my newsletter subscribers. The list of projects I want to tackle is long and inspiring.

But I also know that this enthusiasm makes it hard to switch off sometimes.

I see this with a lot of small business owners. You might love running your business, but also struggle to take time off.

You might feel the pressure to work a lot because you feel that this is the only way to make your business a (financial) success. And then there’s the pressure of making every minute count as you try to combine a business with a family, or another job.

But we can’t always we working. Indeed you, like me, might have started a business because you wanted more flexibility around how you spend your time.

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How do you really make time to switch off this Christmas?

So how can you really switch off this Christmas?

Follow your needs, not your fears

Our fear tells us that we should keep working, because that is the only way to make it work.

It tells us that we can’t take our eyes off the ball for even one second, or things will fall apart. It tells us that if we’re not on social media, we will lose all of our clients and customers. Our fear wants us to believe that if we don’t immediately reply to our email people will not want to buy from us.

Fear, of course, is a bad guide in this instance. You are running your business, and you get to run it in a way that works for you.

How would it feel to not work this Christmas?

How would it feel to not work this Christmas? To not check social media and feel obliged to post? To not check your emails?

How would it feel to take a step back and recharge? To switch off? To truly rest? And have time to really connect with the people you love?

I know very well how scary it can be to take a step back. But it’s your business, and you deserve to feel how you want to–how you need to–feel running it.

So: what do you need this Christmas?

Make your plan

Switching off properly is not going to happen if you wing it. If you wait until there’s no work to be done and no projects to develop, you will never ever take a break. Trust me.

So: take a moment to look at what you need to do in order to take that break.

If you have a project-based business, when is the last day that you’ll be shipping orders? Once you’ve decided, count back to the date you’ll last be accepting orders. Do not make this the same date, or have these days close together. Give yourself enough time to actually pack your orders and bring them to the postoffice.

If you run a service-based business, when is the last day you’ll be working with clients? Keep in mind that every appointment with clients might create more work. Don’t book an appointment at 4 in the afternoon of your last day of work if you need to send a follow-up email with notes.

I also really love this episode of Josephine Brooks’ podcast about planning for time off if you’d like some more inspiration.

Add a buffer

Once you’ve made your plan take another look. Did you add a buffer? Often things don’t go to plan, so make sure that you have an extra day or so to finish up any last things.

You might get more orders for products than expected (yay!), so you need to add a buffer for that. Or, your last client meetings might lead to more follow-up work than you’d expected. Take that into account.

And, if you don’t end up using your buffer, you’ll get to take your break a day early (bonus!).

Communicate when you're on a break to your clients and customers.

Communicate your availability

Once you’ve got your plan in place, communicate it. For example, share on social media what your last day of work will be, when the last date to order from you is, when’s the last day to ship is.

And, for additional accountability, communicate it to your family and friends–especially those you’ll be seeing over Christmas.

I’ve seen lots of people posting on social media when they’re about to switch off for the weekend or for a longer break. You can even combine it with a thank you to your audience for their support over the past year.

Remember: your business needs to serve you, not the other way around

And, finally, turn on your out-of-office reply. In your message explain when you’ll be returning to work and to your email. In my experience people rarely mind that you’ll get back to them later, as long as they know.

If you’re anything like me, you might need another (firm) nudge to really stay off social media and email. So, this Christmas, I’ll be taking social media off my phone and iPad, and will also make sure that I can’t check my work email.

Plan your return

Finally, take a moment before you switch off to think about your return. If you expect that you’ll need some time to process your email, don’t schedule a client call on the first morning back to work.

If you think you’ll need to catch up on orders, don’t plan a big launch in your first week back.

I love starting my first day back to work after a break gently. One of my favourite ways of doing so is planning a task I really enjoy that also connects me to the core of my business. For me that core is supporting people. So, I’m planning to spend my first day after the Christmas holidays largely on planning and creating new downloadable that will go for sale in January.

I hope these strategies help you to really time some time off to recharge this Christmas. If you need some extra inspiration, I’d recommend Kelsey Mech’s recent podcast episode on reclaiming rest.

Remember: your business needs to serve you, not the other way around–and that certainly goes for social media too.

Have a restful Christmas, filled with space and light.

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