“Time off? What’s time off?” – Every entrepreneur who every lived

I find the single most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur is the sheer juggling act of it all. Client communications? That’s you. Managing a social media presence? Yep, that’s you too. Accounting and Finance? You guessed it – all you. And so it’s not hard to guess why we entrepreneurs find it so incredibly difficult to give ourselves any meaningful time off at the holidays. We think that if we take time off, our clients will forget about us, our work will completely dry up, and come the new year we’ll be applying for a full-time gig somewhere (gasp!).

But we’ve got it all wrong.

When you take some time for self-care, here are some of the possible benefits: rejuvenation and a mental reset, rekindled friendships and relationships, and increased productivity and clarity when you do return to work. What’s not to like about that?

So consider this my holiday gift to you: five small ways you can help take care of yourself during the holidays and give yourself a well-needed break from the craziness that we call entrepreneurial life.

1) Set expectations with your clients. If you decide to take a few days off this holiday season, let your clients know as far in advance as you can. Then remind them – more than once. Putting an announcement in your email footer is also a good idea. For example, We’ll be out of commission Dec 24-26 and will reply to all communications on Dec 27th. Happy Holidays! Setting expectations ahead of time will minimize client freakouts and help you to truly relax when your “self-care” days arrive.

2) Don’t overbook your time off. As people in business for ourselves, we are masters of maximizing our time to the nth degree. If you look at your calendar and realize that your “time off” is booked solid with coffee dates, parties, feasts, and the like – you might want to consider creating some space. After all, time spent at home curled up on the couch with a good book is sometimes the best time of all.

3) Come up with a game plan. For most of us, fully unplugging is completely unrealistic. I find it helps to come up with a plan for when I’ll check emails or spend any time on my computer, for example, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. Coming up with parameters for yourself will give you permission to relax within them. Once you come up with your plan, try your best to stick with it. Consider how you’ll feel after a get-together with your family: knowing you spent most of your time on your phone fretting about client emails, or knowing you were fully present and made the most out of your time there?

4) If you start to feel overwhelmed, call a friend. We entrepreneurs have to stick together. If you’re feeling completely inundated and don’t know how to cope, or you’re having a hard time enjoying the holidays because you’re so preoccupied with work – call someone you know who gets it. Chances are that just talking it out and getting an outside perspective on things will make you feel better and a bit more in touch with reality.

5) Remember, everything works out one way or another. When my endless to-do list starts to feel like it’s an enormous weight that’s about to crash down on me (might sound dramatic but it’s true), I try to take a step back and think about the big picture. Work is important, but living life to the fullest every day is more important. Don’t forget it.

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