Taking time off for Christmas as a small business owner is not easy. While our industry demands that we have time off, simply by shutting down, it doesn’t stop the ‘stuff’ that goes on behind the business scenes on a daily basis. So how do you really take time off at Christmas? Well it takes practice, discipline and a little hard work.
How To Really Take Time Off At Christmas
Let Your Staff Know
If you are on a shut down over the Christmas period, you will need to give your staff plenty of notice, in fact it should be worded into your employment contracts to ensure everyone is aware of the break and the general period of time it will last for.
You will need to give staff at least 3 month notice of the anticipated shutdown dates. This will allow them plenty of time to plan for their holidays. Be firm about your expectations of being left alone during your shut down period.
If you have a business that continues to operate over the break, consider putting a manager in place, to be sure it’s not you that staff call with any issues.
Let Your Clients Know
Be sure to let you clients know exactly how long you will be out of reach for over the break. Give them dates and an alternative contact if necessary.
For our business, we notify our clients, and suggest they email if they have an urgent issue. They are however, made aware that there is every chance we will not get to their email for a few days, and in an emergency they have another contact.
Previously we have paid a staff member to remain on call to ensure that there is a contact for our clients, but that we are not disturbed unless it is absolutely necessary. Perhaps this could work for you as well?
Put An Auto Responder on Your Email
Putting an auto responder on your email, will mean anyone that sends you an email, will receive one in return advising them that you are on leave and your return date. Setting expectations are the best way to avoid disappointment, and most if not all people are understanding of need for leave.
Change Your Phone Messages
The afternoon your leave begins, change your phone message to outline that you are on leave and when you will be returning, BUT and he is the real secret, ask your callers not to leave a message as you will not be checking your message bank, instead either give them another contact or an email address.
I cannot explain how much stress this one tip has saved us over the years and never one complaint. Do this on all your phones, office and mobile.
Turn Your Phone Off
For many small business owners hearing the phone ring only incites anxiety that is completely unnecessary on your annual leave. Remembering that you have a message on your phone which tells your clients not to leave a message and provides another contact, there is no reason to hear that noise on your time.
It has gotten so bad over the years for us, that we now have separate personal phones to ensure we are still contactable by family and friends but that we can have the space that works for our mental health. If you ever feel anxiety when the phone rings, do yourself a favour and get a second phone for ‘me time’.
I cannot stress highly enough how important it is to take a break from your business. I understand the feelings of “Only I can”, or “It easier if I” but honestly, your health is far too important not to take a well deserved break.
Do you prioritize time away from your business at Christmas? How do you switch off?