“Ah, the holidays. Time to unwind, relax, and unplug.”
— said No Entrepreneur Ever…
If you’re a business owner who nodded along with the all-too-familiar feeling that you’re not going to get any much-needed downtime this holiday season, we urge you to reconsider. If you’re taking calls during family time, peeking at your Facebook page at dinner, opening emails while your kids open presents, poring over projects by the ski slopes, and checking stats over cocktails, it’s time for a digital detox.
We understand how important your business is to you and realize that you might not be able to shut it all down for the winder. And, yes, we know you’re wired to go, go, go. But we all need a little digital detox now and then. So slow down, be present, and give your poor eyes and thumbs a rest, will you?
Here’s how to you can enjoy a digital detox and unplug for the holiday season:
Make a list and check it twice
Go ahead and make a list of everything that needs to get done between now and the end of the year. Scratch the stuff that isn’t absolutely urgent. If it can wait until January without any major repercussions, give yourself permission to put it off without feeling guilty. Prioritize the stuff that must get done and front-load your month — nose-to-the-grind — to clear the way, unplug, and unwind for the holidays.
Take intermittent breaks
After you’ve made your list (and checked it twice) and you realize you can’t responsibly unplug for a week or days at a time, find some space in your calendar to go off the grid intermittently. Setting aside 24-72 hours would be ideal, but if you can’t do that on short notice for the holidays, find some non-screen time for yourself somewhere. We promise, it’s there. Would it be possible to work every other day? Take the weekends off? Work half-days? Totally shut down from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m.? When can you not only leave the office, but completely unplug from the matrix?
Give your customers a heads up
Contact your customers to let them know as far in advance as possible. Unless you have a seasonal business that ramps up around the end of the year, most of your customers are expecting you to take some time off anyway. Just send them a friendly note, wishing them a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth, or any wintery mix of holiday cheer, and let them know you’re going to be a little slower than usual in your response because you’re taking some time to reflect on the year and get refreshed to better serve them in 2016.
Give your team some time off
In addition to regularly scheduled officially closed dates, take some pressure off yourself by loosening the reigns on your team for a few weeks. Cancel unnecessary meetings. Let them work from home, head out early, or come in late. Give blanket permission to go to the kid’s holiday lunch at school and pick their sister up from the airport. While of course you still expect everyone to pull their weight and meet deliverables, you want them to be able to detox and return refreshed too. And, selfishly, you don’t want to be as readily available to them as you usually are.
Set your “Out of Office”
Change your email “out of office” settings to vacation mode on the days you are out, or to reflect your altered schedule. If you normally respond within a couple of hours, and you’re going to work half days, set your message to say that your response may be delayed. While you’re at it, change your voicemail too. And if you’re usually very active and responsive on social media, update your status to let your followers and contacts know you’re taking some time away. Most responses can wait; but if people are accustomed to hearing back from you quickly or a new lead is contacting you for the first time, it’s best to put these measures in place and announce that you’re not working “business as usual.”
Get smart with your phone
If you’re addicted to your smartphone, ease into your detox by turning off your push notifications, log out of your apps, and finally just delete your apps. No big deal. Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, Pinterest — whatever sucks your attention away from the people sitting right in front of you and the beautiful world all around you — just trash the app. Don’t worry. When you re-install it later, it will be just fine, and you can go back to checking it every 3 minutes if you must.
Be honest with yourself and don’t let your ego get in the way. Your business is not going to crumble to pieces if you unplug for a little while. Find some time to switch off your smartphone, stow away your tablet, and shut down your laptop. Consider this your permission to reboot and recharge, so you can head into the new year refreshed and fully energized. Your body, mind, spirit, family, (and your business) will thank you.