The holiday season can be an exciting time for both your business and for you. It may be a time of heavy sales and demand. Even if it’s not, the end-of-the-year is often prime time for business owners to catch up on strategic planning, reviewing marketing campaigns, and other important tasks that tend to get moved aside for more pressing daily concerns. Personally, the holidays are filled with family time, get-togethers with friends, and charitable giving events and parties.
But in the middle of that, you may find your work-life balance slipping. If the holidays are a busy time for your business, you may find yourself unable to give family and friends the attention they deserve. If you’re giving attention to holiday cheer, you might feel that you’re neglecting your business.
How do you establish a healthy work-life balance over the holidays? Here are some tried-and-true pointers for the merriest time of the year.
1. Set priorities
Set your priorities for the holiday season, both for work and for life. It’s a very good idea to divide needed activities into three categories:
- things you absolutely must do;
- things you want to do;
- things that you feel obligated to do.
If you need to supervise shipments of products for the holidays, that goes in the first category. If you want to have a front-row seat at your children’s holiday pageant, that goes in the category of things you want to do.
Things you feel obligated to do go in a separate category because they may be of lesser priority than the first two. Perhaps you feel obligated to make the holiday party of your local business roundtable, for instance. But in fact, you can meet the attendees in other, less time-pressured months. If you’re crunched to maintain work-life balance, tasks you feel obligated to do and events you feel obligated to attend may be dropped and/or rescheduled.
2. Plan well in advance
A good work-life balance is often the result of planning far in advance. If your business or industry is busy during the holidays, early December is not the time to be planning!
If you need to train employees or order more products, start months in advance. You want fully trained workers and fully stocked shelves! Review your sales, planning, and needs from the previous year at the holidays. Is there anything you needed you didn’t have? What were the lessons learned?
Sit with family or friends to plan your time with family. Are you going to take vacation time? Ski? Attend sporting events or concerns? The more fully you plan, the more you can actively incorporate the events and experiences you want in your personal life.
3. Schedule actively
Once you know your plan both for work and personal time, it’s time to sit with ye olde calendar and actively schedule when you will execute the things you’ve planned. A schedule performs two important functions in busy times. First, it will be your guide to when activities and events will occur.
Second, writing all your planned activities down on a calendar provides an early warning system if you are becoming overbooked. When you find 15 tasks written on the 20th of December, it’s a red flag. You may not be able to complete them all without working late into the night! Know your limits and plan for flexible schedules.
When we’re overbooked, work-life balance tends to go out of whack. If you’re getting together with friends on a night that’s also the kick-off of your holiday product launch, you might end up canceling one or the other because there’s just not enough extra time. Make sure you have a holiday schedule you can actually live with.
4. Set firm boundaries
It’s tempting to try and do it all during the holidays. You imagine more walk-in traffic in your business, or more online sales, and you want to make that happen. Last-minute invitations to holiday festivities crowd your calendar. You may all too easily try to do too much.
The solution is to set and maintain firm boundaries on where you’ll be spending time. Don’t get drawn into overwork; delegate actively to subordinates or postpone activities that aren’t absolutely crucial. Don’t get drawn into making trips to see every aunt and uncle if you feel more obligated than enthused. (If you do feel enthusiastic about it, make a plan so it happens!)
If setting boundaries makes you feel like Scrooge, remember: you’re setting boundaries not to refuse to do anything, but to make healthy room for the things you really need to do and want to do.
5. Outsource when you can
Delegating can work wonders to help you prioritize your time and make the end of the year a wonderful time — and so can outsourcing! In fact, outsourcing can work wonders if you have a small business with limited or no employees.
A small business owner’s time can especially be drained by administrative issues such as payroll or systems. Many business owners try to handle these issues in downtime before the New Year. But your time is better spent with work no one but you can do, such as strategizing future plans or hiring key personnel. Payroll and systems issues can be outsourced relatively easily and cost-effectively.
The same is true of taxes and accounting. Since tax season happens fairly soon after the holidays, some business owners may use the pre-new year time to gather their tax information. But it may maximize your time more effectively to outsource your tax and accounting, which can also be done relatively easily and cost-effectively.
Take Charge of Your Work-Life Balance Today
Guidant Financial offers all-in-one solutions to assist business owners with administrative and tax and accounting. Outsourcing these responsibilities maximizes your productivity, allowing you’re a robust work-life balance not only over the holidays, but all year round. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.