Will you be working over Christmas?
For many business owners, the Christmas holidays don’t provide a well-rested break. With nearly half (49%) of small and medium sized business owners and decision makers abandoning the festivities to work at this time of year, according to Zurich’s 2015 SME Risk Index, it’s clear that cutting the apron strings is proving difficult for many professionals. Perhaps you’re included.
Many small business owners put in the extra hours because they’re too panic-stricken to turn their backs, while others simply don’t know how to stop. Nurturing your business is important, we know, but in some instances, it can actually be more beneficial to work less over the Christmas season.
Is working less all it’s cracked up to be?
Now, we’re not going to tell you to stop working over Christmas altogether. You know your business needs best, and a third of business owners say the festive period is a ‘vital’ time for growth. However, working that little bit less can be more advantageous in the long run.
The benefits of working less
You’ve probably heard about how working less makes you more productive and minimises mistakes. Parkinson’s Law, a famous philosophical saying, explains the idea: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Unexpectedly, Serps Invaders, a digital marketing agency in Edinburgh, found that introducing duvet days and four-day weeks improved productivity and helped retain top talent in a highly competitive industry.
More recently, some employers in Sweden have introduced a six-hour workday in a bid to increase the happiness of staff. The initial experiment, conducted by a nursing home in Gothenburg, found that employee productivity had improved, alongside worker health and a reduced absenteeism rate. All thanks to a shortened workday.
Why downtime is important
It isn’t just your business that could benefit from working less. Spending time with loved ones and recharging your batteries can improve wellbeing and health. Relaxing can lower your blood pressure, reduce muscle tension and improve concentration, while catching up with family and friends improves self-worth and happiness. Whether you spend your downtime in the great outdoors or chatting to friends in the comfort of your home, turning off from work can really improve both your mental and physical wellbeing.
You might have good intentions, but how can you work less?
Saying you’ll work less and actually working less are two very different things. Many business owners are prone to promptly checking emails, accepting phone calls and managing projects (why wouldn’t you?) while they’re off, so it’s about acknowledging you will be working but limiting your time, focusing instead, on making the most of it. Here’s how you can maintain a good work-life balance.
1. Allocate specific hours to work
By allocating specific hours each day or week during Christmas to focus on your business, you’ll get your work fix but also get time out to relax. Be sure that as soon as your hours are up, you switch off (both physically and mentally).
2. Take time out for business reflection
For organisations not directly involved with Christmas activities, the quiet festive season is a great excuse to reflect on your business, and its outlook for 2017. Where do you see your organisation going, and how will it get there?
3. Plan what needs to be done
Being organised is the all-important factor for making the most of your limited working hours. Prioritise what you should focus on initially, and what will get you the best outcome.
4. Switch off during downtime
Highlight to your clients and customers your selective working hours, so they can contact you at a time when they’ll get a response. This will allow you to switch off.
5. Keep your expectations realistic
From response times to how many hours you’re working, by keeping expectations realistic, you can minimise working pressures and increase efficiency, providing you with more time to enjoy the festive season.
Planning your finances now could give you flexibility next Christmas
If you need to work over the festive season to make up for a quiet trading period, perhaps planning your finances will give you more financial flexibility. There’s no time like the present, so if you want to ensure you’re financially prepared for next Christmas, start putting sums of money aside each month – starting now. This will allow you to enjoy the festive season without any financial worries.
Christmas, ‘tis the season to be jolly. By doing a little bit less of what you love, you can think clearly, be more productive and enjoy a much-deserved rest, ready for even more success in 2017.
Have a productive, enjoyable and successful Christmas from everyone here at Aldermore.
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