When I first began my business, I felt as if I had to always be working on my business and responding to clients at all hours of the day. What a lie that is we tell ourselves! During the holidays while my family members who work 9-5 jobs were able to completely step away from the office, I was still working without end in sight.
Luckily, that has changed. I now have set non-negotiable boundaries that help me truly enjoy the holidays and vacations that my family plans. It’s never too late to set your business up to allow yourself (even as a one-woman show!) to step away and your business still thrive.
ONE: Set an Auto-Reply Email
This, in my opinion, is the easiest step to take in allowing yourself to unplug from your business. Every email platform allows you to set an auto-reply email response. Simply write out an email stating that you’ll be out of the office and will be responding to all emails on “X” date.
The beautiful thing about this email is it can also serve as a cold-selling email. If you have digital products, include links to your most popular items so potential clients can “shop” while they await your response. Include links to your upcoming mini session dates, pricing pages, etc.
You can even consider sharing a couple of FAQs in your auto-reply as well. This way you may answer questions a potential client may have automatically.
Once your email is set and scheduled, be diligent and follow-through with what your email says. If it states that you won’t be responding to emails until the New Year, don’t. I promise your current customers and potential clients can survive a week or so without your response! And, if not, they aren’t your ideal client.
You can even set an auto-reply message for Facebook Messenger and Instagram DMs, which leads me to my next tip…
TWO: Announce on Social Media
Social media makes it so easy for us to communicate with our audience. That is why when you are deciding to “sign-off” for a period of time, it’s good to make your last post before deciding to unplug about taking a break. Let your audience know that you’re taking a much needed break and that again, just like in your auto-email, will be back in the office on “X” date.
Another option is to pre-plan and schedule your social media posts in light of the holidays. If you still want to keep up your posting schedule, mapping out your social posts on a third-party platform such as Planoly, is the way to go. You won’t have to manually take the time to post and this way you can rest easy at night knowing that you are still “working” on building connections with your audience. Log in for 15-20 minutes to engage and reply to comments. Just make sure to log out when that time is up so you don’t get sucked into the rabbit hole.
THREE: Turn Off Business Notifications
This tip may make you cringe for the first 24-48 hours, but I promise it’s well worth it!
Any apps that you have on your phone or desktop that notify you when a client or potential client has reached out to you… turn them all off. As business owners, again, we feel as though we have to respond to people ASAP. Let your auto-email do its job and give yourself permission to truly “unplug” from the tech.
You may find that you actually enjoy not having all the “beeps and buzzes” and start making it a habit to turn off all notifications even on the weekends! I’ve had all push notifications turned off for the last several years. Yes, years! I’ll never turn them on again. It’s one of my favorite boundaries to keep me focused and avoid distractions.
FOUR: Have an Accountability Partner
Whether it’s your spouse or another small business owner, tell someone that you are unplugging from your small business and will need help with the follow through. Believe it or not, when we actually voice what we are going to do, it gives us higher motivation to actually achieve said task(s).
FIVE: Have Season Help or a Virtual Assistant
If you really, really don’t want to completely unplug from your business, I recommend having a virtual assistant who can check your emails periodically for you during the holiday season so you can still leave all notifications turned off.
If there is an email that actually requires a timely response or an issue that arises, your VA can notify you. It’s important that your VA know how to properly contact you during the holiday season so that the only notifications you receive are from them. Some platforms to consider here could be Slack (especially since you can mute specific channels!) or Voxer.
One of the many tasks my handy VA helps me with (aside from basically writing this entire blog post *wink*), is handling my student and tech support via email. This allows me to focus on my photography clients and makes sure my students’ questions are tended to in a timely manner.
Remember, it’s GOOD to unplug from your business and take a break. Good for your personal health and good for your businesses health. You might even find that you come back more energized after the holidays, ready to tackle your Quarter One Goals. Or maybe, during your time-off you’ll realize business tasks that can be automated and don’t require your attention every second of the day.
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