The countdown to the holiday season is on!
If you’re a planner like me you’ve got the next two months staring back at you in plain sight. I mean this literally. I have a large hand drawn can’t-miss-it calendar for November and December taped to my kitchen cupboards — a tip from Fay Chapple at the last WIBN conference I took to heart.
My calender, just like yours, is already over-full. And as you know, there is no such thing as “time off” when you’re an entrepreneur — unless you’ve got a solid plan in place. Here are a few ideas for how to stay productive and sane at the busiest time of year.
Tip #1: Be realistic/don’t overdo it.
When we’re busy we often let self-care activities like a daily walk or adequate sleep get away from us. Schedule in all the activities you must do followed by those you really want to do. If an opportunity to socialize comes up, see if you can incorporate a visit into your plans (winter walks are exhilarating!) If someone is trying to rush you to get something done or more work comes up than you can handle, be honest. If you like to say yes and make people happy, this can be really difficult. It can also be the cause of your holiday unravelling. Know exactly what you must do and want to do over the next eight weeks. Starting now, practice saying no to things that aren’t on your list.
Tip #2: Set your work hours NOW.
The great thing about running your own business is you get to make up the rules, including when, for whom, and for how long you’ll work. Your December work schedule may be influenced by school and daycare holidays. Start thinking now about what’s realistic (there’s that word again!) for you and your family. If you want to or absolutely must work through the holidays, talk to your nearest and dearest about how they might help. You never know when an aunt, uncle or grandparent might just step in to take the kids for a sleepover, a day at the ski hill, or a shopping date — and you can take a deep breath and get some work done.
Tip #3: For God’s sake, leave the house.
For those of us who work from home, the holidays pose a real challenge. Of course we want another coffee and Bailey’s, a few more chocolates, and a festive movie. Of course we want a clean house for company and to watch our kids enjoy playing with their new toys. If you’ve already planned your work hours (see tip #2) my next tip is an add-on. Get out of the house! Plan to make your escape 15 minutes before you’ve scheduled your “don’t disturb me, I’m working” time. If coffee shops are too noisy, plug in at the local library. Ask a friend or colleague if you can work alongside them at their office; for many the week between Christmas and New Year’s is quiet and company may be welcome! Or find a co-working space where you can pay by the hour to work in glorious peace and quiet.
A final note, solopreneurs. If you need extra support over the holidays, ask for it. Get the help you need, whether that means hiring a babysitter one night a week or paying someone to get you through a rush. You’ll feel less frazzled when it’s time to leave your work behind, and in better shape to get things done when you do work. You’ll also have the energy to celebrate with family and friends — as you should!