One of the downsides of being self-employed is that we are surrounded by work 24/7. Sometimes we love what we do so much that it’s hard to stop…even during the holidays. I’ve found that I actually prefer working when the rest of the world is on break…I’m more productive, focused, and less distracted by the day-to-day.
Here are some tips to make the most out of your holiday vacation, without sacrificing family or relaxation time:
1) Take a “Technology Free” Day…or Two
This is listed first because we really do work too much. In order to really be productive, it’s important for our brains to take a break. Sometimes we can become obsessed with our business, forsaking valuable family time. Schedule a day (or two) where you are completely technology free: no cell phone, no email, no TV, no radio, no iPod, no computer, no gadgets or trinkets to connect with the outside world. Go ice skating. Build a fire. Have a BBQ. Take a hike. Go watch a play. Look through old photo albums. Do whatever fun holiday things are happening now. Find some local events to enjoy with your family and friends. Believe me, when you do get back to business, you’ll be better off for it.
2) Update your Social Media Profiles
Depending on your business (technically, depending on where your customers are) you should have profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest and/or other social media sites. Take a few hours to objectively look at how you’re presenting yourself to the world, and update your profiles. Maybe change the description, images, or even start posting again. (I’m horribly behind…*sigh*)
3) Find other Like-Minded People
Whether you’re looking for a job, or in business for yourself, networking is key. Take a few minutes to find local business organizations to join. Find events to attend through Meetup, your local Score office, Linkedin groups, Chamber of Commerce, or other local professional groups. Don’t see a group that suits your needs? You can start your own group on Meetup for any kind of interest: working at home, blogging, movie fanatics, singles groups, mom groups, and so much more.
4) Catch up on some reading, or make a must-have book list.
Yes, you need to read if you want to grow your business. Pick up some books from your local library or local bookstore and use your downtime to expand your knowledge base.
5) Play “Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it”
This is actually one of my favourite games to play (yes, I’m weird.) It involves putting together a massive to-do list. Everything should be on it, from business to personal, to everything in-between. Get it all on there…at least 2 to 3 pages worth of stuff that just needs to get done.
Then, either you do it: Right now. (Or, as soon as possible) Check it off the list and get it done. Or, your delegate it…find a kid up the block to shovel your snow, rake leaves, or pick weeds. Find someone on Craigslist or TaskRabbit to mend those clothes you love, or enlist your kids to help you clean out the attic. Or, you dump it: accept the fact that you will never finish that craft project, or the half-finished motorcycle in the garage (*sigh*) or whatever big thing that you’d always say you’d get to later. Just dump it. Let it go.
Now, I’m not actually saying you need to throw out the motorcycle or craft project…just release it from your mind. Accept the fact that you’ll never finish it and it will forever remain in it’s current state. Believe me, it’s an amazing release of stress when you accept that it will never be finished “one day.” It just won’t be finished. And that’s OK. If you actually want to get rid of it, that’s your choice. But I’m telling you, when you can finally accept things for what they are, instead of what you want them to be, the burden of not completing it is lifted.
6) Throw out your New Year’s Resolutions
I have had repeated one New Year’s Resolution since 1993: Become hip. And admittedly I have failed year after year after year. I’m not hip…maybe someday I will be, but now I just make that resolution for resolution’s sake. At this point, it’s kind of an ironic hipster thing to do.
New Years Resolutions don’t work. Our human brains barely can commit to what we’re doing next weekend, much less see something through for 365.25 days.
There is nothing wrong with setting self-improvement goals for the next year. But be a little more realistic. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, how about January resolutions? You can do something for 31 days, can’t you? And somewhere around January 29th, start thinking of your February goals. Heck, that’s only 28 days. Anyone can commit to something for 28 days. (Side note: isn’t that the required minimum stay for rehab? Just saying…) And then plan for March, April, etc.
When you’re creating these goals, plan for something small and measurable. “Drink more water” means nothing. “Drink half of my body weight in ounces 5 times a week” is much more measurable and accountable. And for each month, set only 3-5 goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself with sweeping reform. That’s how you crash and burn. Once you mastered 3 for January, you can then add 3 for February. By the end of the year, you will have accomplished 36 new life or business habits. And if you mess up one month, just add it to the next! You don’t have to wait until the following year to start again, you can just pick up where you left off during the next month.
One of my favorite habit-reforming philosophies comes from when I studied Kundalini Yoga:
It takes 40 Days To change or break a habit.
90 Days To confirm a new habit.
120 Days The new habit is who you are.
1000 Days You have mastered the new habit.
We end up breaking our New Year’s Resolutions so easily because we’re aiming to master new habits instead of break old ones. It’s a process. Take your time.
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