If you’re a small-business owner, daily work/life balance can seem more like a pie-in-the-sky goal than an actual possibility.
According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 89 percent of Americans said work/life balance is a problem, and 54 percent called it a “significant” problem.
When you add condensed holiday schedules and myriad commitments, it’s enough to make your head spin.
With a little planning, small-to-medium-business owners can look forward to the possibilities this time of year brings. To usher in the season and focus your mindset on efficiency, consider reading Stephen R. Covey‘s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Making a few small adjustments to your daily routine can help you find balance between an upswing in business volume and seasonal festivities.
1. Use tech tools to organize and prioritize
Chances are that you’re already fairly organized if you’re running a small business. During the holidays, however, it is time to kick your organization up a notch — and technology can help.
Solutions like Office 365 and its calendaring capabilities through Outlook can help you bring together both business and personal commitments in one view. To ease communication from anywhere, try Skype for Business. Presentations can be shared and discussed from any location, and quick conversations can take place remotely.
Apps like Wunderlist make it easy to manage a running list of business deliverables and personal to-dos and delegate through the app’s sharing capabilities. Consider setting a numbered prioritization scale against these, which will make it easier to determine what is critical and what can wait.
Setting reminders, notifications and due dates will keep your growing list of important tasks from being overlooked. For additional recommendations, this eGuide provides tips on making your business more agile through the flexibility of cloud technology.
2. Be aware of time
There are certain obligations that you need to see through. The key is to analyze each and streamline where possible. Ask yourself if that meeting needs to be an hour or if 30 minutes is sufficient. Learn to say “no” to any activities that fall below a set number on your prioritization scale.
Drop non-essential activities that eat up your time and energy, and minimize unnecessary distractions. Small things like ordering stamps online instead of going to the post office or having groceries delivered and shopping online to avoid long lines can have a big impact. This will help you create new efficiencies in your day and find time to dedicate to priority tasks.
Taking this a step further, consider implementing some of 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss’ aggressive ideas about building efficiency into the work week. For example, on particularly busy days, only check your email twice. This will eliminate unnecessary distractions throughout the day as you tackle your to-do list. He also recommends implementing a process of elimination using the 80/20 principle: focus on making 20 percent of activities produce 80 percent of your results. Whatever doesn’t fit into the 20 percent should wait.
3. Rely on your support system
As a business owner, it’s true that a lot rests on your shoulders. That said, it is important to take full advantage of your support system. Encourage employees to rally around a collective seasonal goal, like a new revenue target or customer acquisition number. It’s important to ensure each person has a clear role in achieving the goal, which will provide a great reason to celebrate success with a holiday party or gathering.
Expressing gratitude for cross-team support will go a long way in boosting company morale, and it will ease pressure on your time. Don’t let asking for help stop when you leave the office; the same goes for friends and family. If you need help, ask for it!
4. Take care of yourself
As much as it pains you to admit it, you are not a superhero. It is important to consider your health, both mental and physical. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep are all things you should pay attention to year-round, and especially during the busy holiday months.
While taking care of yourself can easily fall to the bottom of your to-do list, deliberately schedule down time, just as you would a meeting or family gathering. Committing to a weekly yoga class or even finishing your latest novel will help you unwind and recharge to tackle each day with energy and purpose.
While these tips will certainly help you find peace during the holidays, it is important to sustain balance throughout the year. Use the holidays to implement these approaches, and by the turn of the year, they will become habits that truly increase your productivity in 2017.