One of the most important things you can do as a business owner is to take a business break – spend time away from your business. It also happens to be the hardest thing to do. And if you have a team that is dedicated to the success of the business, giving them time off is important as well, especially during the holidays when there is so much opportunity for family and social gatherings. Not only will it show that you appreciate that they have a life away from the office, which can have a positive impact on your overall company culture and success, but it is also a prevention tool for burn out. Many businesses shut down for at least a few days, some for more.
Of course, there are industries where it is next to impossible to take a business break during the holidays: retail – this is one of your busiest times of the year – and the restaurant industry are two examples that come to mind. Try giving a break at another time of the year. In the restaurant industry, the “holiday break,” or party, often happens in January after the busy season.
With the holidays right around the corner, it is the perfect time to take a breather from 24/7 business brain. Remember that your business still has to remain visible throughout the holidays even if you aren’t. Here are a few things to consider to keep momentum going and to keep a relaxed mind throughout your time away.
Not everything has to be done immediately. Create a to-do list if you don’t already have one and rank everything by due dates. If there are things that need to get done before you leave, then get them done. If you have tasks with no due date or ones with later due dates, leave those to get done when you get back. Assigning yourself timelines for each task you are putting a hold on will ensure you don’t worry about it while you are gone.
If you work with a team, assign tasks from the overall to-do list to help you stay on track for deadlines. If they are not taking vacation time, empower them to make decisions without you, but let them know that you are available for emergencies.
Turn on your “out of office” message
You shouldn’t be checking email regularly if you are trying to take a break, so let people know that. You are helping to set expectations for your response times. That way you don’t have to feel pressured to keep an eye on your email.
Keep your blog going and keep it light
If you’re blogging right, you should have a regular schedule you follow so your audience knows when to expect new content from you. Keep that schedule going while you are away by writing your blogs ahead of time. Most blogging platforms will allow you to schedule each blog to go live at a specific day or time. If you really feel like your audience will not want to read your regular-length blogs during the holidays, have a bit of fun with the content. Keep it short and light (while staying on-brand!).
People are still social
The holiday season doesn’t mean your audience will be unplugging. Social media is 24/7 all year round. There are a number of tools on the market that will allow you to continue to put out great content even if you aren’t sitting at your computer. Automation tools like Hootsuite and Buffer are built so you can schedule your content to go out at certain times, it just requires a bit of planning (your best friend in business!). I would caution you to not just “set it and forget it,” which means that you should still check in periodically to engage and make sure everything is running smoothly. Make good use of apps on your phone so you can check in without having to drag out your computer (which usually leads to “just doing one more thing”).
Set limits before your break
Just because you have a smart phone and other devices that keep you connected doesn’t mean it has to be attached to your hip. Decide how many times you will check in per day, assign times, and keep your phone out of sight at all other times. If it is in front of you, you will check it. If you have someone looking after things while you are away, let them know your set schedule and set protocols for emergency contact.
You need to give yourself a business break to start the year with a fresh perspective. If you work with a team, consider giving them a break as well, even if the timing is staggered so there is always someone in the office. Regardless of your timing, if you are taking a break, you need to make sure your business won’t lose visibility because you halted your strategies while you are away.
What are you doing to prep your business for the holidays?
A version of this article was posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications Blog.