Can you believe it’s November? That seems insane to me. I swear this year just started … and then we went through all the ups and downs, emotions, changes … with work and life, and now we’re here. Crazy!
Whether you are just starting to look into your options to work from home or have a thriving freelance business, the holidays can be an intense time. And I would expect nothing less from 2020, if I’m being honest.
One of my biggest struggles when I first started working for myself online was around creating a schedule that worked for me. Of course, we want to make our clients happy, we want to work so we can make money, but the holiday season is a time where you should be able to focus on you and time with your family, too.
When you don’t find this balance, it’s easy to feel career burn out. I’ve been there, thinking that after taking some time off for the holiday season I would be energized, refreshed, and ready to start the next year with all the excitement in the world.
But when January rolled around, it was really hard to get back to work those first few weeks after the New Year because I really just felt like I needed the time off … even more than I had gotten, and then I immediately felt behind, my to-do list piling up, and then here comes the stress.
Basically, the exact opposite of the refreshed feeling I had expected.
So to help you to avoid that feeling of holiday burn out and get back to work faster, more efficiently, I want you to start planning now! Here are some tips to get you started …
1. Don’t use your time off to avoid
Taking time off may mean that you don’t have to think about what in your career/ business is making you unhappy, what clients are driving you crazy, or what projects feel so overwhelming for you. Time off just becomes more stressful when you’re using it to avoid whatever problems you have, because when you come back, those problems are still there.
If you feel like you need the time away from work to not have to think about anything that’s happening in your business, I really want to encourage you to work that out starting today. The longer you put it off, the more it’s going to become an issue and avoiding never helps.
Write down what’s bothering you and what actions you can take to make it better. Figure out the right solution and make that happen as soon as possible, set a timeline. The more you can make your business exactly what you want it to be now, the happier you will be when you come back to work in January, knowing that your year is about to be amazing.
2. Plan your priorities BEFORE the holiday season
A new year always comes with a lot of to-dos in your business. Making sure all your yearly cash flow documents are updated, setting up new Google Drive folders for the year, reviewing your previous years achievements and setting new goals. And of course, all of your regular client work that you have to get done.
Before you take time off, sit down and make a list of all the tasks that you need to handle throughout November and December, get clear on schedules and timelines with your clients, and make sure your project management tool and schedule are all up to date. This way, you don’t have to stress about what you need to do, you’re organized and on top of everything.
3. Plan in a little bit of work, when you can
When I go on vacation, I always plan 20-30 minutes in the mornings to just go through my email inbox and update my project management system. Even if it’s just a few minutes when you can, staying on top of some of your tasks can make it so much easier to come back to work.
There’s nothing more stressful than coming back to work with hundreds of emails that feel like they are going to take forever to get through and competing priorities for client tasks that you need to start working on. You don’t have to commit to set times or actually do any of the work, but just knowing what you have coming up and staying a little organized can make a huge difference in how you feel when you get back to work.
4. Use some of your time to learn
If you have free time, putting some effort back into your business is always a good idea! Take some of your free time to learn a new skill, get better at one of the services you offer, or plan a new upcoming business venture.
If you want a free training for your Virtual Assistant business, this month I’m making a free video on either how to rock email handling and zero inbox processes for your clients, or how to create beautifully organized social media calendars. We already have people voting over in the FB group, so be sure to let me know which you would rather learn about!
5. Let go of the stress!
You deserve to have time off. You deserve to spend time with your family. And you deserve to completely unplug. Make sure you are clear on your expectations with your clients, including if you will be completely offline during certain dates. This is so important because if you’re constantly replying to Slack messages, emails, or Voxer, you are not going to feel like you’re actually off work.
Take time to actually let go of the stress, take care of yourself, and have fun. It’s really important that you have this time for yourself and you do NOT have to feel guilty about that. As business owners, we can feel like we have to be ‘on’ all the time, so I want to remind you that you are so much more than just a business owner and your happiness and self-care is also a top priority.
Your physical and mental health is just as important as your business. I hope these tips help you to have a happy (and stress-free) holiday season!