I don’t know about you, but for me thinking about “taking a holiday” from my business used to be an impossible thought.
It can feel like the pressure is ON full force. All the time. 24/7.
There is always more to be done when it comes to building my business.
There is always something being added to my to-do list.
Especially at the end of the year.
In December, business expectations shoot skyward for “finishing the year well”.
We’re urged to “map out the coming year before it’s too late”.
All well and good. I agree wholeheartedly.
I intend to finish the year strong. I love to plan. I’m excited about what I have in the works for next year.
And yet …
Despite the urging to finish strong, my productivity simultaneously drops as the month progresses.
I need a break.
I want to enjoy the holiday festivities.
I want to step away from my desk, my laptop, and my email. Without guilt.
For me, the end of the year signals a time to take a break and enjoy all of the extra social gatherings and get-togethers.
It’s time for me to step away from my daily work pace.
So, I do. And I enjoy it.
And you can do it, too!
Just imagine how relaxed you’ll feel if you allow yourself to slow down the pace of your business for the rest of this holiday season, knowing that you have things well in hand for when you return to your desk full-time.
Let me show you how to enjoy the rest of this holiday season – away from your desk and guilt-free.
Here’s how: Set yourself up for a successful ‘holiday’ from your business with a few simple steps.
- Collect all of your pending lists and notes (business project lists, task lists, and to-do lists).
By this time of year you might just find that you’ve got lists and miscellaneous notes all over the place. It’s time to pull all of that together into one place.
Collect all of your pending projects, to-do lists, reminders, and good intentions into one place.
Take a look at your desk, sort through stacks of paper, gather those post-it notes you’ve written to yourself, flip through your calendar for pending items, find those scraps of paper with ideas and to-do lists, and whatever else you’ve used to write down what needs to be done this year. Find them all.
Have you done that? Good, now you’re ready to move on.
- Divide and group your business projects and tasks.
Sort and organize all the information you collected in the first step. Use this simple method and it won’t take you more than a few minutes. Sort each item on your lists into one of these three categories:
– Not Started
– In Progress
Do not agonize over the importance of anything that you run across. Don’t get bogged down here. Simply ask yourself a single question: Has this item/project been started? If not, you know which pile it goes into. If it has been started – in any way – and isn’t completed, it’s still in progress. If it has been completed, place it in that pile.
Ready to move on? Good!
- Catalogue your business projects and tasks.
Set aside your “not started” group. Just stack those items and pieces of paper, or create a single list. Then put them away (out of sight). Remember, you will get to them. But not right now. We’re getting ready to take a break from business-as-usual, for just a bit. The “not started” items are not important at this moment. If you want to organize those items, you can follow the outline below. Otherwise, release them for now by placing them in an easily accessed drawer or file.
Now let’s take a look at your “completed” pile. It’s time to honor that completed work. It’s your choice how you do this. Do you want to record those items somewhere, all on one list? Do you want to throw away the miscellaneous notes and lists, doing a little happy dance as you put each one into the trash? Do what feels good. And don’t linger here. We want to move on so that we can get even more peace of mind.
Now it’s time to make sense of your “in progress” pile. We need to further catalog these items so that we can prioritize.
Look for natural groupings and patterns, and sort accordingly. Here are some ideas for different categories:
– To be delegated (or can be delegated)
– Waiting for someone else before I can take action
– Associated with a deadline or due date
– Losing (or lost) interest
– Ready to work on / complete
Use as few categories as possible. Don’t let yourself get stalled with this step. Remember, you’re only stepping away from your business for a short time.
Don’t start pressuring yourself to get as much done as possible. Take a deep breath.
The goal is to identify the status of your pending items. Period.
- Identify your top priority items.
It’s time to identify your top priorities. Choose no more than THREE. Seriously. You are just one person.
Choose up to three items or projects that feel most important to you. Set the others aside. They weren’t getting done right now, anyway, were they? So take a deep breath and put your other pending items aside.
Got your top one to three priority items? Good. Let’s move on to the next step with just those.
- Break it down.
Take a look at your top priority items. For each of them, identify the very next step(s) to be taken toward completing that project or task.
Create a short list under each project/task title, with the steps clearly outlined. Do this for each of your priorities. Be clear. Be concise. You are just about ready to step away from your desk for a little holiday.
You’re ready to move on to the last steps.
- Set realistic expectations.
If you have a deadline that must be met during the time you’d like to be on holiday from your business schedule, be sure to make arrangements for meeting that deadline. Write it in your calendar. Alert your assistant. Or, if possible, take care of it now.
Be realistic about being away from your business. If there are things that must be taken care of, then plan to take care of them.
Otherwise, be realistic about what you will honestly get done while on holiday. Let yourself relax and don’t pressure yourself to squeeze in time for projects.
I highly recommend setting your email “out of office” automatic reply so that it responds to incoming email with a short, professional message. Include a friendly note that you are on holiday and be sure to include the date you will return to the office or the date by which you will return email messages.
You can do the same with your voicemail message, if desired.
- Create your return plan.
Mark the following items in your calendar for the day you will return from holiday:
– Turn off your “out of office” email message.
– Change your voicemail message, if needed.
– Schedule time to begin working on your top priority items. You know what to do when you sit down at your desk upon your return– no need to rack your brain – you’ve got the next steps already outlined.
– Schedule time to catch up on email.
You now have a plan in place for taking a holiday and being able to enjoy it guilt-free.
You’ll have peace of mind knowing that when you return to business-as-usual that you have a plan. You know just where to start. And you’ll be feeling refreshed and invigorated after your holiday.
Rest assured knowing you’ll be able to jump right back into the action without missing a beat (or a deadline)!
And until then, turn up the music, enjoy some egg nog, and close the door to your office.
You’re on holiday – guilt-free!