Christmas holidays are usually dedicated to good food, joyful moments and, most importantly, to spending time with loved ones. Even if the festive season should be relaxing, for some it is in fact highly stressful, with many expectations and deadlines to meet.
According to a survey conducted in 2015 by Healthline, the majority of participants interviewed felt stressed over the holiday season, in particular younger generations (millennials – 61 per cent).
The reasons behind Christmas holiday stress are varied, but overall for business owners and entrepreneurs, the festive time is perceived as the last chance to accomplish tasks, meet stakeholders, wrap up the activity of the current year and plan for the new one. There can be a lot of expectation to make a lasting good impression and complete the business year in a memorable way.
What’s more, it becomes even harder to disconnect; with many tasks to finalise, the temptation to answer that email and take that phone call – even if you are supposed to enjoy your time off – is stronger than ever.
This kind of pressure can affect the quality of an entrepreneurs’ holiday, making it really difficult to recharge the batteries. As the CEO of a startup, and also a busy mum of three, I personally understand the difficulty of getting through this hectic time; with experience, I learnt how important it is to set priorities and allocate some down time to generate new energy for the forthcoming year.
Here are a few tips to turn your holiday season into a time fully dedicated to yourself and your loved ones, without giving up on your business.
Luckily, clients and stakeholders will take time off too, allowing you to plan your next steps in your own time. Planning ahead before the holidays is fundamental to keeping everything under control; avoiding ending up with a last minute to-do list. It allows you to set your priorities and goals, planning carefully what you need to do before the end of the year and also after it. Don’t forget to leave some time for last minute necessities too – during busy periods like Christmas, these are likely to happen.
Planning ahead also includes communicating your proposed time off. Make your availability and flexibility clear in advance, in order to be completely transparent with your collaborators and clients – an act that will undoubtedly be appreciated.
Set achievable goals
We all know how difficult, and nigh-on impossible, it is to totally unplug from work when you are an entrepreneur. For this reason, it is important to set realistic targets and highlight priorities. Ask yourself which projects need finalising and how much time you want and can dedicate to your personal activities. When you have outlined these points, you can make a schedule and plan your days before, during and after the holidays. Setting achievable goals is beneficial for both yourself and those around you; you will avoid putting yourself under unnecessary pressure that will hinder productivity whilst making others aware of what they can expect from you.
For me, being an entrepreneur has always meant working with specialised, talented and reliable people. Trusting your team during a hectic time is crucial, so don’t be afraid to delegate. Review your projects; assign responsibilities, highlight deadlines and establish regular communication in order to remain in the loop. Get your team together to make the best out of the time you have so that you will all be able to enjoy a well-deserved break.
This method works on a personal level too: get your family together and divide the tasks you need to complete to be ready for the holidays (food, gifts, housekeeping, etc.). There is safety in numbers!
This is the most difficult part: learning to say “no”. Even if you would like to join every meeting, event or conference call, you need to count that in a stressful time quality matters over quantity more than ever. As Steve Jobs once said: “Focus is about saying, No. And the result of that focus is going to be some really great products where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.” Focus on projects that strictly need your input and say “no” to the others. It is important to set boundaries and give yourself some space to organise your time. Don’t apologise for it either! It’s only fair you take time for yourself and your personal life, as this will ultimately improve your outlook and productivity, giving you a new ball of energy to start the new year as you mean to go on. The festive break is unarguably a resourceful time to reflect on your business; allowing you to generate fresh ideas and challenging goals for the new year ahead.
About the author
By Isabelle Ohnemus, CEO at EyeFitU