Posted on 18 December, 2018  |  4 mins

‘Tis famously the season to be jolly. But you won’t be feeling too festive if you’re worried about what’s going on in your business while taking a much-needed break.

We know work/life balance is the Holy Grail for entrepreneurs. You’ve probably already decided you’re going to recuperate and spend some time with family and friends this festive break.

Great—that makes smart business sense. If you can come back feeling refreshed for the year ahead, it will benefit everything from your productivity, creativity, decision-making and your own personal wellbeing.

And while stepping away from your business to make it better might seem counter-intuitive, in the long run, there’s plenty of research showing its benefits.

Why business owners should take a break over Christmas | 9 Spokes

But be aware that you’ll be incredibly tempted to run your business even on holiday. Spend too much time fighting or giving into these urges and all the benefits of a good break will go out of the window.

That’s not to say you can necessarily leave the wheel unattended. What you need is a plan to switch off from your business this Christmas and still stay in control.

Here are a few things to consider if you’re planning on doing just that.

1. Let everyone know the score

Let’s just say before we begin that we know every business is different. If you employ staff, there’s an extra consideration of how contactable you’ll be when on holiday leave.

Make sure your employees know what kind of problems to contact you with, what can probably wait and what they can do if they’re unsure. Is there someone else capable of making decisions in your absence?

The same goes with other people you might work with (suppliers or agencies). It will help to let them know you’ll be out of contact for the Christmas break. In many cases, you can simply do this with an out-of-office email set-up that tells people when you’ll start your leave, when you’ll be back and how/if they can contact you for urgent matters.

And while we’re not in the business of giving relationship advice, it might also help to let your family know, too, that you might have to check in on emails or answer a couple of phone calls along the way.

2. Give yourself set times to “check in”

If there are absolute must-dos while you’re taking a break this Christmas, consider giving yourself a set time to do these things.

You’ll know at what time you’re at your most productive and when you’ll have the most free time, so try to fit your work in around this. By giving yourself, say, a one-hour window to work—and sticking to it as much as possible—you’ll hopefully find your mind drifting less to work during the other hours of the day.

Importantly for this tactic, you’ll have to have an idea of what kind of work is essential, and how much of it you can do from home or on holiday. If you use business apps, things like paying your bills should be entirely possible through your cloud accounting software, for instance—you won't have to go into the office to do that, but log on from your home computer, tablet or smartphone.

3. Use your data dashboard to your advantage

While we’re on the subject of apps, remember that running a business today isn’t the same as it once was. You can control much of your business in the cloud, wherever you are in the world.

Those cloud apps also collect data, so you can keep an eye on your business, even if you’re not taking action immediately.

Connect your apps to your data dashboard, and you’ll see things like which bills you have coming up, your sales that day or week, expenses you have to approve and which of your employees are in and which have also booked leave. It’s an overview that means you don’t have to delve deeply into your apps to find the right information, nor go into work to check up on things, but glance at your dashboard and see key insights in one place—wherever you spend your Christmas break.

You might also find it useful to rearrange your data dashboard for the Xmas holidays—dragging and dropping the things it will be most important you keep your eye on towards the top of your dashboard, so you can spend less time checking up and more time putting your feet up.

4. Remember why you’re resting

When you’re a business-owner—the finder, minder, binder and grinder of your company—you take a lot of responsibility. But be conscious not to let your holiday turn into a source of guilt.

It’s easy to do. We’re told that the more you put into something, the more successful it will become. But that’s not always true. A prize boxer can’t fight every night, a Ballon D’or winner can’t play 365 times a year, and you can’t run your business in the best possible way without rest.

So, when the guilt starts from not being in your business, remember that taking a break will be good for your health, your decision-making, your creativity, your stress levels, your ability to lead others and your resilience—all things your business can’t survive without.

Have a wonderful Christmas, and we’ll see you (fully refreshed) in the new year.

How to switch off from your business but stay in control | 9 Spokes