The holidays are such a wonderful time of year. Most everyone is in a festive, friendly mood. Yet, despite the fun and gaiety, it is also an extremely stressful time, particularly for women business owners.
It's a proven fact, the majority of all domestic responsibilities fall on women throughout the year. We are the social planners, organizers, decorators, chefs, car service providers, community volunteers, care-givers and overall general managers of our homes and families. And all of this comes on top of our normal 60-hour work week.
Then the holidays come along, and everything kicks into warp speed. There are critical business concerns that must be wrapped up before the end of the year, while at the same time our personal life is demanding more of our attention. I do-t know about you, but sometimes I feel like a hamster on a wheel -- no matter how fast I run, I can't seem to get ahead.
So I decided to reach out to successful women businesses to get some tips from them on how they manage the craziness during the holidays without going insane.
Sara Sutton Fell, owner of FlexJobs, says set a schedule for yourself. 'As a business owner, wife and mother, it can be difficult to stick to a set schedule during the year, especially if your business is run from your home like mine is, because work and life are constantly colliding. But during the holidays, set aside business time and personal time, and try to stick with it' she notes.
Fell suggests using auto-response email messages and voicemail. Leave a cheerful holiday message explaining to your clients that you are away from the office for the holiday but will respond to them as soon as yo're back. During this time of year, I imagine most everyone understands.
I loved the response Betsy Muller, owner of the Indigo Connection: Coaching Solutions for Prosperity, Health and Joyful Balance sent me. She said,'I am a former worn-out woman, business owner, wife, mom and self-care'energy makeove' expert. The best advice I can give any woman is to let something go. Usually a good place to start is to stop trying to be perfect and just be'
Unfortunately, I fall into the 'everything needs to be perfect' category which does put extra pressure on me. Based on Betsy's advice, I'm going to try to be a little more laid back. After all, who is really going to miss one more strand of garland I forgot to include!
Many of the women who responded to me, talked about the importance of getting exercise and taking care of your self during the holidays. Whether it is a quick trip to the gym, a yoga class or taking the dog for a brisk walk, you will feel better and re-energized.
And don't forget about the importance of sharing time with people. 'My body and my mood were clear indicators that I need to take a break. Tight shoulders and a stressed mood tell me it's time to relax and enjoy. So when there is a choice between computer time or a person, choose the person. I will stop what I am working on to talk to a friend or colleague no matter what. People are more important than things,' says Sharon Jacubecy, a certified Alexander technique Teacher, Poise Performance Coach and Choreographer.
Finally, Molly Gordon, owner of Shaboom, suggests taking the week between Christmas and New Years off. 'Let clients and vendors know you won't be in the office during that time. Use it to reflect on your business, plan for the coming year and recover from the holidays.'
However you manage this holiday season, I hope it is a great one for you and your families. And here's to a successful and prosper 2011 for all small businesses.