Recently we discussed how taking a personal day every so often will help you to build success for your business. The same is true for taking other times off. For instance, taking a break from business at the holidays will allow you time for other activities that are important.
Why take holidays off?
Our minds need a break every so often from the daily thought processes involved when running a business. These breaks help us to clear our thoughts, freeing up our mental processes in order to let creativity flow and ideas to blossom. Our bodies are also given a break and allowed to move more freely and differently. We get the chance to loosen up.
It’s important to take some personal time during these days, even if that means you only have time to yourself for twenty or thirty minutes a day, perhaps to enjoy a cup of tea in solitude and quiet. This little break will help to reduce stress in your daily life.
Taking holidays off is also important to others in your life. Your children would love your undivided attention for a while. Your family and friends want you to be able to spend time with them as well. The benefits of having a good time with family and friends are immense, and well-deserved.
Even if you can only take the holidays themselves off, you and your business will be better off in the long run.
Activity: Go through your planner and schedule a day or two off for each holiday you feel is important, including Mother’s Day and your birthday if at all possible.
Want a longer holiday?
Extending your holiday time off.
If you can manage it, take more than just the one or two days off at holidays – particularly at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This allows for more time with loved ones, further lowering stress levels as well as helping thought processes.
How can you do this? This type of thing may lend itself better to some career choices than others, but it can be done at least minimally. Here is an example of how you can take an extended holiday, to encompass Thanksgiving through the New Year if you can make it work. A short time period of you can’t go that long.
Say you are a writer who writes fiction and freelances. You know in advance how long you want your holiday season to last and are prepared to put a little extra work into your business weekly during the lat summer and early fall months in order to have the time off that you desire.
Your first step is be sure all client work is done before your holiday. You take the time in early to mid summer to email all of your clients explaining when your time off will start and end, and asking them to let you know what holiday projects they will need done within two or three weeks of your email send date. You let them know that you’ll be sure to get each project done a week or two before your time off starts, so they have a few days to look things over and send them back for revisions if needed, and tell them the final date when they will have the revisions back before your time off date.
You schedule your time so you are working on current projects during the morning, spending an hour or two after lunch on marketing and administrative tasks, then spending a couple of hours on holiday projects for client. This will be your schedule four of your five work days each week, and will use the fifth day for working on your manuscript, writing a chapter each week after setting your deadline for the book.
You know you want to send the manuscript in a week before your holiday start date, and let your publisher know what dates you will be taking off and that you will start any edits your first days back.
If you have blog posts and/or pages that will need to be posted during your time off, you’ll write and edit them, add pictures and other add-ons, and schedule them to publish to the blog on the desired dates while you are taking time off, doing all of this at a rate of one post per week during your prep period. Then you will write, edit, and schedule for publication blog notes for your readers:
- A note for each blog to post a week before your holiday start date, explaining that you will be on holiday from whatever date to whatever date, that you have scheduled posts that they will still be able to read, and that you will handle comments and emails when you are back from holiday, but they are still welcome to contact you.
- Notes for each blog to post on each holiday, wishing them blessings for that day and again explaining briefly why you are away, when you will be back, and that you will answer correspondence when you return.
If you have a newsletter, you’ll want to create that and send it out the day before your holiday starts if it is due out during the time you will be off, again mentioning your holiday and when you will be responding to correspondences and wishing everyone the best at the holiday(s).
Create a marketing plan to start as soon as you are back after the holiday, if you will be needing more clients in the coming year.
During the week before your holiday, make sure you are caught up on administrative tasks such as book-keeping, filing, idea capture, and queries. Be sure to also clean your work space and put things where they belong, and remember to note anything you plan for after the holiday break, so you won’t forget to do important things when you get back to work. And be sure that all client work is done.
How long should your holiday be?
That depends on factors such as how well you plan and how far ahead you are able to get before the holiday begins, as well as your family and friends and your plans for the season. It also depends on your type of business.
Activity: Sit down with paper, pen, your planner, and the family calendar. Take note of school and daycare vacations, event dates, and other things on your calendar. Look through your planner to see what you already have scheduled for that time period. Ask yourself how much has to be done and at what rate, in order for you to extend your holiday.
How much do you think you can reasonably get done during the late summer and early autumn months? Don’t forget to figure in how long it usually takes to finish projects for your clients, extending that time by a week just in case.
Can you carve out a week? Two weeks? Longer?
When you have a length of time you are confident will work, decide on the dates and mark them on the calendar and in your planner. Also in your planner, plan out how you will get everything done before the set holiday start date.
Some tips to get you started
- Don’t get so bogged with daily work during your prep period that you lose sight of what is important and why you are doing this. You still need time for yourself and your children.
- Take regular breaks during your prep time so you don’t get overly stressed. Take walks. Sip tea. Hang with your children. Enjoy life.
- Don’t work seven days a week, every week. This will burn you out and you will be sick and over tired when you want to be having fun.
- Make a master list of things that need to be done but will only take five minutes. Make another for ten-minute tasks, and another for twenty-minute tasks. When you finish working in one area twenty minutes early, go to that list and complete one task, or complete four tasks from the five-minute list. You get the picture.
- Eat healthy during this prep period and stay well hydrated to have the energy and motivation you need to stay on task.
- Work out regularly, even if it is just to go for walks around the block. Take five-minute breaks each hour to stretch or do a mini workout. This will help you to stay healthy, increase energy levels, and will keep you from stiffening up. For me, this also helps with back pain.
- Keep healthy snacks available when you don’t have time for breaks. This does happen every so often.
But what about the money?
If you plan well enough, you won’t have to worry about money. The money you earn from the holiday projects you complete early for clients should be put away and used as your pay during the holiday you take. During your prep period you will be earning your normal pay from clients (your pay for that time period) + you’ll earn extra for the holiday projects (money to put in the bank until your holiday break). Take the total amount of holiday project pay, minus taxes and bill payments for the time you’ll be on holiday, and divide it by the number of weeks you’ll be taking off. Each week you’ll have that amount for groceries, gifts, and whatnot.
It’s possible to take holidays off if they are well-planned.
Activity: See what type of plan you can come up with for the next holiday, or go ahead and try to get yourself set up for next Thanksgiving through the New Year. The longer you have to plan, the better.
Happy Successful Planning!