In an ideal world, the holiday season would be filled with celebrations, time with family, and minimal stress. In reality, holidays can be one of the most stressful times in our lives. In America, many people report feeling more stressed out during the holidays, and women, in particular, are affected. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, "nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays at great risk to the health of their minds and bodies."
Running your own business takes a large amount of focus, time and energy. Fortunately, many business owners thrive in the fast-paced, high-pressure climate of "being in charge." Things can get even more hectic than usual during the holidays, however, and sometimes even the best managers struggle with the task of balancing increased work and home life pressures. Holidays can be a challenge for business owners for a variety of reasons, like tighter project timelines, or even worrying about childcare, as most children are not at school.
If you approach the holidays with the dread of everything you need to juggle, consider using the following strategies to manage your work/life balance during this hectic time.
1. Delegate responsibilities you would usually handle yourself. The holidays are a great time to give yourself a break and let someone else handle some of the work. For example, ask a family member or friend to bake the cookies you need to bring to the holiday party. On the business side, maybe you have considered increasing an employee's responsibilities at work. Now may be the perfect time to give the employee a chance to prove him or herself and take some of the load off your shoulders.
2. Learn how to say "no." Learning to say "no" can be really hard for business owners. You take pride in your accomplishments and enjoy contributing to the world around you. Sometimes, though, you need to limit your commitments, especially when the holidays increase the directions you are being pulled. Prioritize what is important to you and say "no" to what you can. You do not have to volunteer to chair the party planning committee at your child's school, nor do you need to work 14-hour days so your business partner can take the week off. Declining events or tasks does not make you a bad parent, boss or friend.
3. Create a schedule and stick to it. If you say you are going to leave the office at 5:00 pm, leave the office at 5:00 pm. In most cases, the work can wait. Likewise, schedule any plans you make with family and friends so that it is a set appointment in your routine. Treat non-work activities like you would a meeting with a client — do not skip out on plans if you can help it.
Balancing work and life during the holidays may be easier said than done, but if you utilize the strategies above, you may find yourself a little less stressed this holiday season.
Jane Stein is the founder of Your Franchise is Waiting, a consultancy firm for men and women exploring franchising as an alternative career path.
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