For many people, the holidays are synonymous with family gatherings and traditions, decorating, tree lighting, caroling, gift shopping, cookie baking, red kettles, jingle bells, mistletoe kisses, Santa Claus visits, and of course, delicious feasts. For busy business owners, the upcoming holidays may also bring thoughts of increased stress as the invitations, expectations, and duties pile up. Surely, you want to take time off to enjoy some festivities with your loved ones but perhaps you are hesitant to do so because you dread the resulting state of your business. You fear the impending doom of being overwhelmed by hundreds of new emails and voicemails needing attention upon your return. You ask yourself, is taking time off even worth all the added stress? Returning to work after enjoying the holidays does not have to feel like getting run over by a herd of reindeer! Take advantage of these simple strategies to ensure a stress-free return from the holidays so you can put your mind at ease and actually enjoy your time off.
Simple Strategies To Make Taking Time Off During The Holidays Low-Stress
Set Expectations And Abide By Them
Set clear expectations with your staff and clients that you are taking time off and do not break your own rules. If you tell everyone you will not be able to return emails and phone calls until you are back in the office, stick to it! If you return even one call while you are away or reply to just one email, you are asking for trouble because it establishes the precedent that you will do it again. Holiday break over!
Change Your Voicemail
Let callers know you are out of the office and provide a date of return in which you will be able to connect with them. Include instructions on who can assist them while you are away and how to get a hold of that person. Furthermore, delegate some of your responsibilities for while you are away to reduce the amount of calls you must return and tasks you must complete once back in the office. Less work to return to means less overwhelm and stress.
Create A Holiday Break Folder And Email Rules
Set up a new folder within your email account named *Review Upon Return. Then, create an automatic rule to forward all incoming emails to that folder during your time off. The temptation to open emails in your inbox can be difficult. Eliminate the urge to read work emails while away by using this awesome trick.
Don’t Schedule Meetings The Day Before You Leave Or The Day You Return
Meetings and appointments have a funny way of giving rise to new tasks to complete, projects to design, and people to reach out to. The last thing you want is a mind full of new tasks demanding attention right before departing. Use this day for catching up only. Close open loops on tasks and projects so you can leave with a clear head, T’s crossed, and I’s dotted. Don’t schedule meetings for your first day back either. Use that day strictly for returning important emails and voicemails and catching up on current tasks and projects. Otherwise, you could be playing catch-up for weeks.
Turn On Your Out Of Office Auto-Reply The Day Before You Leave
It is nearly impossible to reply to all the emails that flood your inbox right before you leave. Create an auto-reply the day BEFORE your real departure that notifies senders you are away to set the expectation that you will not reply to their email until your return. If you wait until the actual day you leave to turn the auto-reply on, you could find yourself responding to emails right up until the last minute just so you can feel like you tied up loose ends and can now relax. This also eliminates ghosting people with no explanation as to why you have not responded which could cause undue stress for both parties as well.
No matter how much you love running your business, all work and no play is harmful to the soul. Taking time off occasionally is key to improving your productivity, fostering renewed focus, and decreasing stress-induced burnout. Don’t turn down joining in on holiday merriment for fear of the ensuing stress and chaos upon your return to work. Enjoy some time off this holiday season, confidently knowing that you have fully prepared yourself for a stress-free return to work!