Startups never stop, even for the holidays. Everyone struggles to balance work and home life this time of year, but it's especially difficult for entrepreneurs to determine when they should answer that last email and when they should power down to spend time with family and friends. After all, with a company riding on your shoulders, how do you know what can wait until after your holiday dinner and what needs your immediate attention?
For me, the holiday period is a great time to recharge. I work really hard to get my work done before I check out for the holiday season. Then, my time is spent with family, just enjoying our time together (usually on the ski hill).
Here are my four tips on maximizing work/life balance during the holidays:
1. Make a daily list of priorities.
Your work list is just as important as your gift list. Especially if you work with a flexible schedule, understanding your priorities is imperative.
Make a list of what you absolutely need to accomplish by the end of the day, and what doesn't make the list, you can accomplish tomorrow. If you attack every day knowing exactly what you need to do, you can enjoy family time without wondering whether or not you left anything hanging.
Better yet, share elements of this list with your colleagues and connections. It's okay to let someone know you did this today and will get to that tomorrow. There's no need to fret about working ahead, if you have secured time for a task the following day. Instead, you can spend the extra time with people, not with your computer.
2. Let your schedule work for you.
You've been staying late at the office, meeting on the weekends and skipping your lunch breaks all year long. It's time to take advantage of work opportunities to knock a few holiday items off of your list.
On Monday, for instance, you have a mandatory afternoon meeting, but the meeting location is right across from your mom's favorite store. Instead of using the time afterwards to grab a coffee, you can buy your mom a gift. If you develop an organized schedule before you start your work day, you will know when time allows for a little holiday cheer.
3. Focus on what matters to you
As the adage says, "What you focus on grows." When you're trying to decide if home time is more important than work time, consider how you want each of your relationships to persist. If you've already worked a twelve hour day, it's probably time to put your computer away and focus on family or friends.
Remember that you created your business to make a better life for yourself and those you love. Even if you have a full inbox, a moment with your family or friends is something you'll cherish forever, whereas you'll probably forget what those emails said in a matter of days. Work can usually wait.
4. Give others the gift of time.
It's the end of the year. Deadlines are approaching. You are stressed. But you can't forget that everyone else is stressed too. Your employees, your colleagues, your connections are all fighting the same battle to balance work and home life during the holidays.
If you finish an hour-long meeting in 30 minutes, don't drag it out. If one of your employees asks to work from home one afternoon, let them--for all you know, you might need to work from home one afternoon too. Remember that nobody will hold the need for holiday flexibility against you, if you give them the same gift of time.
Knowing when to plug it in and when to turn it off is vital to a successful business and a happy holiday. Being organized, strategic, nostalgic and understanding will help you step into the new year satisfied personally and professionally.
Finally, I use this time to marinate and do some self-reflection: what's working, what's not, what would I like to do differently. This usually turns into a few business-related new year's resolutions that I keep front and center all year long.