Taking a break from work is important to everyone, not just your staff. Business owners often work around the clock with hardly any down time and taking a break can be just as stressful. In NZ, we’re lucky to have as many public holidays as we do, and the Christmas / New Year period is a great time to unwind.
With careful planning and management everyone can enjoy these Christmas holidays. Here’s our tips for helping you to wind down over the holidays so you can have a restful break:
- Prioritise workloads and manage expectations
Setting realistic deadlines helps staff work to a nice, calm schedule. Trying to cram a high volume of work into a short space can lead to poor quality output. Let your staff know what work you expect them to do before they leave, and what can wait until they get back.
If you are personally planning to be off over the festive season, it is vital to manage the expectations of your clients and staff. Let them know when you will not be around and advise them early confirming who the point of contact is in your absence. You may decide to split your tasks between two team members. If you do this ensure one of those staff has overall responsibility for escalating to you. This will ensure as few interruptions as possible. It is important these staff know they have your authority to make decisions in your absence. They won’t always get that right, but success comes from trial and error. Engage and empower these staff and your holiday will be as interruption free as possible.
- Smooth handovers for your remaining staff
If you have staff working through part of the holidays, make sure they are comfortable knowing what work they need to cover. A detailed handover with strong process notes documenting all deadlines and workflow expectations will remove any stress and confusion and those on holiday can feel assured the work is being managed. If you have the opportunity, give those staff covering work the opportunity while those handing over are at work. That way they can check they understand the requirements, can ask questions, and build trust with those they are covering.
- In the few weeks prior to Christmas set some boundaries
In the lead up to Christmas the days and weeks can feel long, hot and tedious. If you have school aged children, there can be a lot going on for them as well. Try and take regular breaks away from work so you can be present for those around you. Let your workmates know when you are contactable and when you are not.
For many, December is often a month where 4 weeks work is covered in 3 weeks so do not be tempted to put an extra project into the mix or say yes to those ‘not so urgent’ requests. Set the boundaries and put the extra items into the New Year. If you find you have extra capacity during December pull something forward but with the expectation set to January, you will not disappoint.
- When you are on a break, switch off from technology
We do not need to be ‘always on’ or ‘always available’. Disconnecting gives our mind and body a break and reduces stress. Set a clear out of office message clarifying who to contact in your absence and when you will be available. Your internal out of office and your external contacts out of office is likely to be different. If you really need to be on your phone, set a time for when you will check emails and messages and be strict with yourself on a time limit. If there is an urgent item sense check whether it requires you to action the task or whether it can be forwarded to the person covering that work for you. What goes around comes around so most people covering a person while on leave will be 100% focussed on delivering to a high level to ensure they get the opportunity when they take a break. It might only be 2 hours for you vs 5 hours for them to complete the task but that’s still half a day of your holiday. Prioritise yourself.
- Make a list of things you would like to do.
This is your chance to reconnect with some of your interests and things you enjoy. Think about things you have been meaning to do and put steps into place to actually do them. Whatever you decide to do, resist the urge to post about it on social media – try to enjoy it for yourself. It generally takes three days to unwind so work hard to disconnect as fast as you can.
Once you start to feel relaxed, the experts behind the Calm app say…
Recharge in nature. One of the most powerful ways to de-stress and switch off is to spend time outdoors and give yourself a break with the restorative effects of nature. Go for a walk along the beach, a hike with friends, or finish that gardening project.
Prioritise sleep. More sleep improves our memory, mood, creativity and problem-solving skills.
Slow down your breath. When we feel anxious or overwhelmed, we tend to take quick shallow breaths, which deepens our anxiety. To counter this, slow your breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. Hold your breath for one to two seconds, then exhale slowly to the count of four. Repeat several times.
We hope you’re able to have a well-earned break this year and we look forward to reconnecting with you in the new year. We have a skeleton staff working over the festive season for those clients where this is their busy period. For all clients winding down over the period we appreciate you giving our team the opportunity to unwind and recharge ready for 2023.