As entrepreneurs and business owners are all gearing up for the hectic holiday season, with the increase in holiday sales also comes the increase in stress! So, we have asked the incredible CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share their best tips for reducing holiday business season stress. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Ask for Help!
Like many businesses, we have a big upswing in revenue around the holiday season. Something that has dramatically helped our team reduce stress is asking for help. Instead of just buckling down and struggling through our to-do lists, we get help from additional employees, and even bring in some friends and family to help us accomplish our tasks. Working as a team to accomplish our daily tasks has made our lives way easier.
2. Set Your Sight on Small
The root of holiday stress, especially as a business owner, is being overwhelmed. So much to do with so little time; it's easy to fall into a pit of despair. The trick is small changes. Make one small change to your practice every day, so the idea of organizing itself doesn't become stressful. For example, you could focus on just outlining a calendar one day - and that's all. The next, it could be to just focus on planning your holiday newsletters. One small change every day will quell the storm.
3. Purposeful Kindness
I set aside money to brighten someone else's holiday season. I pull out cash in early December with a goal of using it up by Dec. 25. Tip people beyond your normal amount - your hairdresser, your dog-walker, your housekeeper, your nail tech, etc. Buy a homeless person a meal. Give the Marine collecting Toys for Tots a $20 bill instead of a dollar. Watch the smiles on people's faces. You won't believe how far those smiles help eliminate stress and bring joy into your holiday heart.
4. Prioritize Based On Context
One thing our agency does is makes an exhaustive list for each client, for us and for home. Make a list of all the things you are doing AND what you are not doing. Once it's out of your head and prioritized, you can feel good about checking off the items in order of importance. Knowing that all of your to do items are in one place eases the mind and helps you take better control of your schedule.
Stephanie Larson of AmpliPhi
5. Start with Breakfast
Make your mornings filled with energy and motivation by avoiding sugary breakfasts. Go for protein or fat-fueled options instead.
This means that you won't get that mid-morning crash and end up drinking too much coffee (which can add to your stress).
6. The 3 B's Are the Key
Apply the 3 B’s to your to-do list: bag it, barter it, better it.
Bag it: For what you absolutely don’t want and don’t need to do. Choose to not do it.
Barter it: Get someone else to do it by trading tasks or paying.
Better it: How you can make the task better? (Plan it for first thing in the morning? Do it with a friend? Listen to your favorite music?) Be creative. Consider any possibility that makes the task more pleasant/less onerous.
You truly can do the holidays differently!
7. Just Like Email - Opt Out!
Everyone seems to realize that the answer to an overfull email box is to delete and opt out of broadcasts, but when it comes to Christmas - no one thinks of it or are too concerned about what others will think.
Ask your family what is most important to them?
Christmas lights, Turkey, Neighbor Party: check check - check.
Fruitcake, the School Party, Gift Exchange at the community center didn't get mentioned?
Guess what that means? Edit your calendar and opt out - Just say you can't.
8. Visit Family AFTER Christmas!
As an ecommerce seller, I limit my commitments during the holiday season and unapologetically book family visits a few days after Christmas. No amount of stock pre-planning and staff preparation can prevent last minute order fulfillment headaches, so removing the guilt of focusing on work during this highly profitable time is the best holiday destresser I've found, and when things get rough for my staff during this time, bringing in a masseuse for free chair massages is the best gift I can give.
9. Slow Down, Have Fun
The best way for me to de-stress during the holiday work season is to slow down and have fun. When we look past the meaning of the holiday, we lose sight of the bigger picture. Enjoy the season and you will not only de-stress, but also be more motivated to work and accomplish your tasks and goals!
10. Decide "Now" or "Next Year"
Look at what is on your plate right now. Make some decisions. Identify the "must-dos" for 2017. Schedule a time in November to get them done. Find items that could wait until January. Defer them on your calendar or task list until then.
Your plan will look as if December will be a breeze. As new December "must-dos" appear, you're not trying to pile an already full plate even higher.
If December is lighter than anticipated, pull a few of the tasks from January and get a head start on 2018!
11. Reduce Commitments and Travel
I give dozens of customer service presentations and training sessions to businesses and associations during the year so come the holiday season, I intentionally reduce my commitments and intensive travel schedule and stay home. Silly as it sounds, I'm going to get comfortable in front of the TV and watch Investigation Discovery TV, or Crime All the Time, as I call it. It takes my mind off my daily grind and helps me decompress and appreciate what I have.
12. Train AM to Sleep PM
Stress management for me involves getting both a daily exercise in and a restful night's sleep to stay energized and productive. Studies have shown that people who conduct their workouts at 7 am or earlier tended to have better sleep than those who did so at 7pm or nothing at all.
Thanks to: Dimitri Villanueva.
13. Plan Early!
Since Blu Skin Care is primarily an eCommerce business, we use online tools to predict when things are likely to become busier. One tool called "Google Trends" lets us see when people normally begin searching for holiday gifts online, giving us a better idea of when we'll need to start planning our online marketing campaigns and other activities.
14. Take a Cold Shower
When it's cold out, there's nothing better than a nice warm shower. Despite how relaxing it is, we still carry so much stress from the holiday season. Therefore, I like to first go have a great workout and then, take a nice cold shower. It shocks you into no longer being worried about the anxiety from the holidays. The hardest part is when you first get in, but once you do it, it really gets your mind off of all the worries.
Stephen Gibson of Vyteo
15. Make Time to LAUGH!
Whether you are a business owner, employee, homemaker, student, retiree, soldier or anything else... the most important thing we all need to keep in mind during very stressful occasions such as holiday times... is to Make Time To Laugh! My best advice for anyone who has to deal with stress is to always remember to take slow deep breaths to relax yourself and LIGHTEN UP and LOOK FOR HUMOR IN STRESSFUL SITUATIONS. If you look... you will find it. Laughter is good for the soul. BE HAPPY!
16. Keep a To-Do List
To reduce stress during the holiday season and help create a better work life balance, I keep a detailed To-do list. I keep the list next to my office computer, which includes reminders such as responding to physical therapists, sending out product samples to doctors who requested them, and returning customer phone calls. Things pop into my head all day and if I don't write them down and form a game plan to accomplish, they can easily be forgotten and cause unneeded stress.
Tara Langdale-Schmidt of VuVatech
17. Three-Day Weekends
Q4 is stressful for just about every business, but as a coupon site, we're on the receiving end of both crazed merchants and consumer frenzy. This will be our ninth holiday rush, and the most tried-and-true way to decompress is taking/offering overlapping three-day weekends.
I'd much rather/have an employee cranking it out for 32 hours, four days a week than grinding through 40 with so much at stake. There's no better time to focus on actual production rather than total hours behind a desk.
18. Time for Family Commitments
The holidays can be crazy in business and are also the time you have a lot of family commitments. The key to reduce stress during that season is to make sure to be on top of all family responsibilities and plan out time to take care of personal things. Without stressing about the personal events, you’ll be able to better focus at work. The biggest stressors around the holidays often come from family commitments and by making time and staying on top of them, you’ll reduce the holiday stress.
19. Make Time for Yourself
Every business owner needs a break, even during the busy holiday season. What are the things that you like to do? What is it that you’re passionate about?
In times of stress, find some time to participate with your passions and hobbies. This does not have to take very long. Whether it’s reading a book, playing an instrument, cooking a meal or exercise, taking time for yourself and spending it on the things you really love will help reduce your stress level and bring some happiness to you.
20. Time Management = Less Stress
The best tip to reduce stress during the holiday business season is time management. While people can talk about taking me time, meditation, or other methods such as exercise to relieve stress, if time is well-managed, then stress is well-managed. That is a bit simplistic, I realize. However, the better time is managed, the less time a person will be under stress. That equals more time spent with the family, enjoying a night out with friends, or just relaxing at home.
21. Focus on the "Why"
When things get crazy and I get too bogged down with the holiday chaos, I take a minute to think about why I started my business, how well it's going and how many people it helps by offering my services. It's easy to lose sight of why you started your business and get lost in the day-to-day tasks and craziness. Taking a step back to remember the big picture really puts things into perspective and releases the stress.
22. Tune Out Chaos + Turn Up Music
When I’m surrounded by the holiday chaos, I put in my headphones and turn up my Spotify holiday music playlists. A little Michael Bublé puts me in a festive mood, and the added combination of music and headphones allows me to tune out the hectic atmosphere and focus on what needs to get accomplished.
23. Running as a Stress Reliever
As an entrepreneur, the holiday season gets hectic, and so the best way that I like to reduce stress is by going for a long run after a hard day. By long, I mean for two hours. I find it relaxing and energizing.
24. Give with Heart
The winning strategy is to give with heart. Think about your loyal clients. All of these months, you have been benefiting from their business, and it’s time to show your appreciation. Within your budget, treat each special client to a meal. In a bigger company, create an in-house team event with catered food, and acknowledge the support staff with sweets. Your show of appreciation will improve the spirit of the holidays for all. Give with heart and feel the heartwarming appreciation.
25. Don't Forget to Rest
Get enough sleep. Sleep is critical for cognitive function and energy levels. It's not just the quantity of hours you sleep each night, but also the quality of sleep you get. One trick for improving the quality of your sleep is to avoid looking at electronic screens at least an hour before going to bed. Electronics such as computer screens and cell phones produce blue light wavelengths, which suppresses the secretion of melatonin and disrupts our circadian rhythms.
26. Deep Breaths & Family Dinners
Taking a deep breath at dinner with my family and watching something ridiculous on TV to distract from the day-to-day ups and downs. Yes, a gin and tonic is helpful, or a nice bottle of wine, but it's not required. I also like to putter around in the garage- nothing specific just messing around out there is relaxing for me.
27. Take Walks & Remain Joyful
In the weeks before the bustle of the holiday season, we prepare. When the wave of orders hits, I trust that preparation and I prioritize. Part of my preparation is scheduling regular walks in nature with my family. When the time comes for me to go and take my walk, I remind myself to trust my staff and to take a stand for all of us to remain joyful in our work and life; I go. The crisp Autumn air works wonders on my soul and the chaos of the season remains fun.
28. Don’t Lose Sight of the Bigger
There’s a lot for a business owner to think about during the holiday season— maximizing sales, getting in front of key dates, etc. Staying focused on what your business stands for and why you started it will keep you grounded, focused, and (relatively) stress-free. At EcoEnclose, the holidays are not about survival or filling up the coffers, they are about building loyal customers, and making the holidays more ecofriendly. Keeping these core values in mind greatly reduces my stress.
29. Scale it Down
There is a lot of pressure on everyone during the holidays— owners, managers, employees, etc. The best way to reduce everyone’s stress is to scale down and manage expectations for yourself and your business. I’ve learned to focus on what has been done, and what will make the biggest difference to my business. You can’t be everywhere at once, and trying to maintain far too ambitious goals for the holiday season will only add to everyone’s stress and set you up for disappointment.
30. Declutter the Workplace & Mind
Workplace distractions can easily make you feel stressed and overwhelmed with work. Just remove everything without a practical purpose or the stuff which doesn’t contribute to the overall look of the workplace. Having the workplace in a tidy condition will reduce your distractions and overall holiday stress. Removing the visual clutter around you will help you keep your mind clear and ready to achieve new professional goals.
31. Don't Overestimate Yourself
To cope with the busyness of the holiday season, I just try to keep it realistic. The goals I set are usually achievable. This helps to process them well and not stress over the targets. The other thing I like to do, no matter my target, is finding some spare time for myself. I find that this really boosts my productivity the next day.
32. Stock Up On Content Beforehand
One way that we reduce holiday stress at FactoringDirectory.org is to make sure that our employees don’t have to work during their time off – or if they do, that it is as minimal as possible. We gradually stock up on content months before the holidays, so posts only need to be published when scheduled. It’s important to us that our team doesn't have to spend its time off worrying about creating new content and instead can relax, disconnect and refuel for the new year.
33. Be Wise! Schedule, Laugh, Fun
These are my best of the best tips to reduce holiday business season stress, and they've been proving to work for the past decade at least! Schedule in fun, important catch-ups with your VIPs and don't overbook. Remember, business still needs to run, operate as usual.
Let loose once a week in ways you wouldn't throughout the rest of the year. Laughter and fun will keep you sane, happy, if the holidays throw unexpected events, unexpected wrenches, into the best laid plans!
Enjoy Holiday 2017!
34. Disconnect from Electronics
Unplug from electronics as much as possible. Sometimes, we forget what life was like before the internet and computers. The holidays are a great time to unplug, read books, and meet with friends and family.
35. Go for a Hike
One of my favorite ways to reduce stress during the holidays is to go hiking. The nice thing about hiking is you get to spend time outside and you get exercise, both of which are helpful for clearing your mind.
36. Blowing up the Holiday Blues
Over the years, I have found that there can be a lot of holiday stress due to those holidays and the end of quarter and year... What I tend to do is blow crap up with the team! I have a 17 acre piece of land and we shoot weapons, blow up trees, cars, etc.. All staff is invited and we just have a relaxing time destroying things!!!
Christopher Carter of Approyo
37. Therapeutic Way to Survive
One of the best things you can do during the holiday season is a 5-minute exercise - constructive rest. Lie on the floor with your knees elevated and your head propped up to a neutral position. Breathe deeply and think about your body sinking into the floor (without actually moving; let the releasing tension move you). Then, think about your body widening and lengthening (again no moving). You’ll feel your tension slowly release, allowing you to tackle the holiday rush without worry.
Harrison Doan of Saatva
Do you know any tips to reduce holiday business season stress that weren’t included? Please share your thoughts below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!