It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.
Before we get too late in the month, let's find out how my friends juggle it all. I asked them this.
“The holidays are such a busy time of year, so it got me thinking about balance.
Between shopping, decorating, business… family – how did you handle it all? Got tips for my readers?”
I think you'll find the answers this week interesting and helpful.
Jason Fladlien of Wishy Washy Guru (<-You know you gotta click that one) says:
For this busy time of the year… I actually get more done believe it or not. Because everyone else takes a break, they are not lined up to speak to me or need my time as much… plus with the family off of work they have more free time 🙂
I like to focus more on internal stuff and preparing for next year instead of going external marketing. But December is a great time to launch products because most people don't do it…
Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of Plan Your Online Business says:
Balance between business and personal lives is a challenge at any time of the year – but particularly during the holiday season. I've found that I prefer shopping late in the evening, after I've finished “work” for the day and had dinner with my husband. The stores are less crowded at that time of day and that's a high energy time for me. Other people are in bed at midnight as I'm closing down the stores!
I'm also doing most of my first round shopping online. As a family we “post” our Christmas lists on Thanksgiving day, so it makes it easy to pick out things you know people will like. Since we encourage everyone to be specific in what they want, they sometimes even include the store and catalog number! So right now my living room is piled with boxes of gifts to be wrapped (my husband's job – did I mention delegation?)
For my business, I preschedule blog posts and tweets. Plus my assistant tweets reminders on things several times per week. I also preschedule email broadcasts (to coincide with the blog posts and other announcements). I try to work a couple hours a day, generally in the morning, so I have the rest of the day “off” for personal fun. After all, we're working this business to have more personal freedom. NOW is the time that pays off!
Starting around the 20th of December, my assistant will only check the help desk once a day and go through email once a day. On Christmas we don't turn on a computer (except for video games with the grandkids!). Then the “quiet week” between Christmas and New Years I'll crank back up full-time. It's a GREAT time of year to get things done!
Kelly McCausey of Solo Smarts says:
I don't believe in balance in the sense that many people talk about it. Sure, you can forecast a perfect balanced schedule, but life doesn't usually fit into your expectations. Rather I believe in having well considered priorities and making choices based on them.
For this empty nest season of my life, I get to be my main concern quite a lot and I'm taking advantage of it. I focus a lot of time on my self care, going to the gym, eating right, etc.
My family is always a priority. I have a whole day every week set aside to be available to them. My calendar booking tool won't let you set up an appointment on that day. I have breakfast or lunch with my step-dad and I'm free to visit other older relatives.
These loved ones are precious and I've no guarantee that they'll be there for me to visit next year or the year after that – so they've got to be a priority now.
As far as the holidays go, I've played it very low key up to now. Not a lot of shopping, definitely not spending a lot of money. My gift to others this year is my time and undivided attention – and home made goodies of course. Future holiday seasons may not be so laid back so I'll take advantage of this one for sure!
Kevin Riley of Blogpreneur Training says:
Fortunately, I live in Osaka, Japan, where we aren't affected by the whole Christmas madness. However, the commercial aspect of Christmas has been making inroads over here in the last few years.
Rieko and I only buy one present each for each other – just something small that we know the other person will enjoy. In this way, there's no pressure to get some big gift, just for the sake of giving a big gift. I'm very happy to be away from that whole gift exchanging thing, and just buying each other a little treat. It really frees up Christmas for just enjoying the season. BTW, this year, I bought Rieko a DVD of a season of Friends, which she loves (Shhh. Don't tell her.)
As for decorating, we only put up a tiny tree and a handful of decorations. When I say tiny, I mean tiny– about 18 inches tall. Next week, we'll make a gingerbread house, which rounds out our decorations and also gives us something to nibble on.
Tips for you? Keep it simple. Focus on just having an enjoyable time with your family. Take stress out of the equation and you can have so much more fun this Christmas. Rather than big presents, give your family your time.
Tiffany Lambert of Work Life Balance says:
Balance is a tough one for me, but I handle everything so I must be doing something right!
For me, what works best is an all day work schedule. Some people prefer to have a set business time, but I feel less stressed if I have the luxury of starting and stopping work in between other tasks that need to get done.
Some days nothing much gets done. The Thursday before Christmas, I spent the first part of the day at my younger kids’ school participating in school events – and then brought them home for my oldest son to watch while I went and did more shopping for six hours.
How did I manage work that day?
My iPhone. I approved and responded to blog posts while standing in those long, grueling lines at the mall. I answered emails when I got back in my car between stores. If I don’t stay on top of things, then it gets out of control and becomes overwhelming to me.
Doing a blog reply here and an email reply there is easily doable.
Regardless, the key is not to beat yourself up if something doesn’t get done – whether that’s part of your home life or business world.
Guilt is debilitating, and you have to enjoy the fact that flexibility is what this career is all about. No one tells you what to do or WHEN to do it. If you need to push work aside until 8 PM because you’d like to enjoy decorating the Christmas tree, then do it! Those are precious family moments and no amount of work or productivity can replace that.
I will say that balance is much more achievable when you have residual income streams that work for you when you need time off for other things. If you're always working as a service provider, then every second you spend not working is a boulder of stress on your shoulders.
Nicole Dean of .. here! .. says:
This is the most wonderful time of the year… and the most stressful, too.
In addition to all of the craziness that I already have, my daughter is in the annual production of Christmas on the Coast, here in town. So, I'm in the dressing room under the stage by the pit – and my hubby is doing props for an entire week. But, she loves it – so it's worth it.
By the way, if you're in Pensacola, come see the show. 🙂
So here are some things that I do to try to keep myself mostly sane this week.
1. Cut me some slack, Jack.
I try really hard to cut myself a break during the holiday season, and just flat out do what I can and not stress too much over what is left undone.
2. Take Advantage of Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime is truly one of the best inventions on earth. I can order pretty much anything and get it shipped anywhere in the USA in 2 days for free. This means that even if I don't start my holiday shopping until mid month, I'll be fine.
3. Presell a New and Exciting Course.
I'll be teaching a Passive Income Course in January with my friend Melissa Ingold. So, we started preselling it this month.
That gives four big benefits:
- I get to finish the year strong,
- My affiliates have a way to easily earn some quick money promoting something NEW that people will love,
- My students get the tax break of paying by the end of the year (and also a discount for buying during the launch), and
- We all get to start the next year with a fun and exciting project to look forward to.
4. Embrace Routine, but Call it Tradition.
I've read that some of the most successful people on earth have a very limited closet of clothes. Like they buy the same darned thing so they don't have to waste valuable brain power on such menial tasks as deciding which socks to wear.
I've realized that I do much better if I do the same.
For instance, this Christmas, I won't be searching Pinterest for a new and fun way to make mashed potatoes. I'll use the same recipe that I've used every year for the last 10 years.
Now that's not to say I don't LOVE Pinterest and enjoy trying new things, but with everything else going on, now is not the time for me to be messing around with new stuff. You follow?
So, I'll be making my SAME spinach dip that I make every year, my same mashed potatoes, my same green bean casserole, and the same old can of wiggly cranberries out of the can.
Now, my husband and kiddos are totally free to come up with whatever dishes and desserts they want to eat. But, as for me, the one who is responsible for all the holiday shopping, plus the business, plus the kids school and staying on top of everything? I have to just let myself have the “tradition” of knowing exactly what I have in front of me for Christmas dinner. 🙂
5. As for Business – Follow the Money.
I encourage my coaching clients to do this and I'll encourage you, too. KNOW where your money is coming from and focus on that, especially in times of added stress.
- If you make your money from publishing a new Kindle book – then do that.
- If you mail your lists daily and that's where the majority of your income comes from, then by golly, don't be messing with a webinar this month.
- However, if you know you can run one webinar with a trusted partner, make enough for the whole month and then be done with work – then do that.
Of course, the above also applies to where you're investing your outsourcing dollars. Put them where you'll get the highest ROI.
6. Planners Profit.
PLAN out the rest of the month now, if you haven't already. In writing. You know, with a paper and pen and a calendar of some sort – so you know what you've got to do and how much time you need to accomplish it.
7. Your VA has a Life.
Understand that your helpers have a life, too. Make sure you're setting them up so they have a happy holidays, too. Do this by planning ahead, posting your hours on your customer support site, and being extra careful of the timing of new promotions and coupons – so there isn't a glitch on the 24th of December that puts everyone in a panic.
8. Take Care of You!
The extra holiday stress can bring your immune system down. Take care of yourself so you're not spending Christmas morning with a thermometer in your mouth instead of a piece of pie.
9. Remember the Routine? Recycle, too.
I post the SAME blog posts this time every year with minor edits.
For instance, you'll see these posted here nearly ever year since 2008:
Streamline and make your life easier – by hitting that ‘copy post' button on your blog and reworking your eagerly anticipated Annual Posts. (Remember Tradition is a good thing.) Or as my friend, Sean Platt said in a presentation that I heard him give. “Become a habit”. I hope and pray that my audience looks forward to these annual posts and anticipates them each year.
10. Don't forget to Spend.
Spend some extra money in your business by the end of the year for tax breaks, but I meant something different.
SPEND time with the ones who you love. Put down that blasted phone (unless you're taking pictures with it) – and experience the moments that you are blessed with. Work can wait and it will be there when you get home.
11. Have your Priorities Straight.
I always tell my coaching clients this:
Remember, it's freaking ONLINE BUSINESS. We're not the ones flying the heart to the transplant. We are web publishers, social media managers, authors, coaches, and bloggers. The world CAN wait to hear back from us in 99% of the cases. But you only get one shot at Christmas 2013 – so enjoy it!
PS. This is a great opportunity to tell you about Tiffany's new product. Check out Work Life Balance to get a good butt-kicking about making sure you keep your priorities in line