This time of year, it’s all I can do to not turn into a puddle on the ground trying to balance between being a mom and an entrepreneur. There are the kids’ school plays. Deadlines at work. The company Thanksgiving potluck and holiday party. Cards to send. Gifts to buy. Dinner to make. Arggh! It’s stressing me out just writing that.
If I didn’t have my own system in place to balance work and family, I would go crazy. But it’s the holiday season when I rely on that system the most. Hopefully you can get some relief from these tips so that you don’t pull all of your hair out!
1. Use Your 3 “No” Cards Wisely
Here’s a little secret: You do not have to say “Yes” to every opportunity that comes your way this holiday season. In fact, you shouldn’t. So pretend you have three cards in your back pocket, each with the word “No” on them.
Every time you get invited to a party or asked to volunteer for your kids’ events, consider whether you want to go, or if doing so is the best use of your time. For three of those events, feel free to mentally take that card out and politely decline the offer. Believe me: The world won’t fall apart if you don’t attend a party. People probably won’t even notice your absence.
Use that freed-up time to relax. Spend time with your family. Do something you wouldn’t otherwise have time to do.
2. Get Your Work Done Early So You Can Play
Many of us take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but some entrepreneurs keep right on working, even if they’re on a beach with the family. That’s not really conducive for having an enjoyable vacation with your clan, so plan weeks out how you can work ahead of time to get your duties taken care of. That way, you can be fully present in your downtime. Your family can feel the difference, trust me.
3. Give Yourself the Gift of Time
Most people I know would rather have time than money. That’s hard to come by when you’re running the company, but there are ways.
Find an employee that you trust implicitly, and begin to teach him or her some of the tasks you have to handle. That way, when you want to take off a Friday afternoon (or a few weeks for a longer vacation), you’re not wasting all your energy worrying about the work that’s piling up. You’ll know it’s being handled well by someone you trust.
4. Remember Why You Started Your Business
If you’re like me, you started a business to have flexibility in your schedule, so you could spend time with your family. Sometimes we get away from that reason and need to be reminded of it. When better than during this joyful season to spend more time with your family? Use this time to reflect on how much you enjoy being together, and vow to have more of it in 2016.
5. Get Your Holiday Tasks Handled Early
I have been known to buy holiday cards in October. I start thinking about gifts for my team months ahead. The end of the year seems to rush by, and I just don’t want one more thing on my plate, so I try to spread out the work.
The same can apply to the gifts you buy for friends and family. Try to keep an eye out year-round for gifts you think a loved one would enjoy, and store them until Christmas. You’ll drastically cut down on that last-minute shopping stress!
6. Simplify Client Gift-Giving
If you send or give gifts to clients, streamline the process by sending the same gift. Whether it’s a tin of delicious cookies or a floral arrangement, you can find gifts that everyone will appreciate, and you’ll cut down on the time it takes to hunt for the perfect gift. Some sites like Harry & David will even send you last year’s shopping list so you can easily reorder gifts this year.
7. Give Your Staff the Day Off
Sure, everyone’s off on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, but think of how happy your team would be with an extra day off. Most of the time, especially on the day before a holiday, nobody’s getting work done anyway, as they’re planning tomorrow’s festivities. Be an awesome boss by surprising them with an extra day (or three) off, then go enjoy yours with your family.
Whether you choose to strike the balance by preparing ahead of time or making executive scheduling decisions, it’s important to take advantage of the time you gain. Follow these tips and you’ll have lots of happy people, whether they’re your family members, clients or employees. Then, when it’s time to get back to work, you’ll be refreshed and ready to take on the new year.