I am speaking from experience: for a small business owner, the stress of the holiday season is amplified. Every year, I always look forward to the holidays, but then when they actually arrive, I get stressed out because of all the extra commitments and expectations. For most businesses, the holiday seasons can be a make it or break it time, which is already a tremendous amount of pressure. Add personal obligations on top of that, and it is enough to make anyone go crazy.
This year, I am going to try something new: I am going to sit back and actually try to enjoy the holidays, rather than stress out about everything. You have to remind yourself that the ultimate goal of the holidays is to spend quality time with the ones you love! I know, easier said than done, but here are 4 things to keep in mind that might help ease the pressure:
1) Learn to say "no."
Just because you are invited to 15 different events, doesn't mean you have attend every one of them. I think this is the thing that stresses me out the most this time of year. I always feel like I have to attend all my clients' Christmas parties to show that I value their work. However, I already have a pretty full workload, so it can be hard for me to add additional commitments. Kelly Walsh, 20 year human resource veteran, president of 1SmartLife and author of the Teeter Totter Conundrum, reinforces the idea that: "sometimes saying no does me saying yes -- yes to yourself, your family and your sanity."
If you can't make it to a holiday party, make plans to spend time with that person (or company) after the first of the year. Meeting for coffee or dinner ,once the craziness has died down, will actually give you more one-on-one time to make a connection, and show your appreciation.
2) Shop online.
Everything about holiday shopping is stressful, so why not embrace technology, and do your shopping online? There is no point to battling the crowds when you don't have to. Walsh gives us a new suggestion to try out this year, "instead of the Black Friday mania, why not stay in your PJ's, eat left overs with your friends and look for bargains in cyberspace that day? Voila, new tradition. "
Online shopping is a beautiful invention: you don't have to fight for a parking spot, you can compare prices with a few clicks, and all your purchases are delivered right to your door. Embrace it!
3) Do the tasks you like, and delegate the rest.
As with anything in life, you have to decide what your time is worth. If you are a busy small business owner, you probably can't afford to do everything when it comes to the holidays. There is no shame in outsourcing some of the items on your to-do lists. Instead of being stressed out, pick a few things that you actually like to do. For example, you like baking desserts, but hate making the turkey or ham, have dinner catered. Can't stand wrapping gifts? Have someone else do it, so you can devote your time to other things.
There are tons of great websites, such as TaskRabbit, that can make delegating a little bit easier.
4) Be honest with yourself.
Know how much you can successfully take on. You have to remember that you don't only have your family obligations, but you also have your business obligations. It can be very overwhelming. You need to check in with yourself to make sure you aren't spread too thin.
One great stress relieving tip that Walsh offers us: send Happy New Year cards, rather than Christmas or December holiday cards. You can send them out the week before the New Years, after crunch time. You don't have to take on everything all at once!
The holidays should be a fun time. You are supposed to hang out with friends and family, eat too much and just have an all around good time. Try your hardest not to let this time of year become something you dread. Remember: you are only one person, so there is no way that you can do it all, especially when you are also running a small business.