How Entrepreneurs Can Develop Healthier Holiday Work Habits

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With year-end holidays less than two weeks away, how are you planning to spend time with family? Will you be logging off of your business entirely during that time, or will you try to steal away a few minutes here and there to respond to "important" emails?

Entrepreneurs and business owners are often in the habit of being a little overly connected to their work. After all, if an after-hours emergency occurs, they need to be the ones to answer it. But with this constant connectivity, many find it difficult to truly log off, even on popular occasions like Christmas. Cloud-identity firm Okta recently compiled data from more than 7,000 customers and 6,000 apps and integrations on this topic, and the results revealed some surprising information. When compared with other holidays, Christmas Day is the most work-free. On Christmas, the use of apps like Box, Zoom and Slack dropped to nearly zero, but the use of Office 365’s email continued, particularly later in the day when workers sign in to prepare for the upcoming workday. This hints at the compulsion that entrepreneurs and business owners feel to constantly check their email.

It’s important to remember that many Americans feel at least occasional burnout. High-pressure positions, long work hours and other stressors contribute to it. But, constantly feeling the need to be “on” and responsible for checking email, even on Christmas, also contributes.But if you put the following tips to use, they’ll help you restore balance and enjoy a true day away.

Related: How to Be Invisible Online Without Going Off the Grid

1. Plan for the day off.

Start planning for the holiday early in the month, and create a schedule that ensures you can get all of your tasks accomplished beforehand. You may need to move deadlines forward earlier in the month to compensate for the time off. As you prepare, let your clients know about the time you’ll be MIA. Chances are your clients will also be off, so this usually isn’t an issue. Depending on your industry and business, you may need to line up an emergency contact. Do this well ahead of time and let your clients know that someone will be in place in case an issue arises, and include all of this information in an out-of-office email response.

2. Be OK with earning a little less.

Accept that you may earn a little less this month with the extra time off, but remember that the monetary earnings of your business aren’t necessarily "off." Rather, view your time off as an investment in yourself. It’ll let you return to work refreshed, revitalized and better able to give your best effort to your business.

3. Let your family in on the plan.

Share your decision to step away from work for the holiday with your family. When you speak this plan out loud and share it with others, you’re establishing accountability. Knowing that you might disappoint family members if you go back on your word can serve as a motivating factor to keep you true to your decision.

4. Turn off your email app.

On Christmas Day, it’s time to shut down your email. Turn off your phone’s push email notifications and close out the email tab on your computer. Ideally, turn your computer off altogether. If you’re worried you’ll still feel compelled to check your inbox, adjust your settings or use a program like Inbox Pause to stop new emails from arriving. You can block off a set period of hours or days and stop receiving new messages during that time. When the block of time is up, all of the emails belatedly arrive. Not only does this strategy help you take an entire day or more off, but it often results in greater productivity when you resume managing your emails again, because you can focus just on the messages you missed.

Related: 4 Habits That Helped Me Spend More Time With My Family

5. Remember the holiday spirit.

Remember the meaning behind Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and all the other holidays celebrated at this time of year around the world. It’s about giving thanks for the family and friends who make our lives better. You only get so many of these experiences, so try to live in the moment and be present during this special time.

Don't forget that by putting aside email and work obligations during the holidays, you’re giving yourself a chance to recharge. This way, when you do return to work, you’ll be refreshed and ready to focus entirely on your business.

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