For all small business owners holidays bring the same old dilemma.

On the one hand working for yourself means you have the flexibility to pick and choose your hours of work (how employees envy us for that).

Yet on the other hand, taking time off can bring you out in a cold sweat.

“Time off? How can I take time off? I may loose out on bookings.” Does this sound familiar?

What time you take off and when is up to you but YOU MUST take some time off over Christmas.

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas take this time of year to recharge the batteries.

And make your time off, count.  Make it quality time.  Head outdoors with the kids and leave your phone at home. Invite friends round for a drink and keep your laptop turned off.  No sneakily checking it when you pop into the kitchen to refill glasses!

To allow this to happen without a sense of panic, start to plan your time off now. This means you’ll be able to throw yourself into the festive period and enjoy it 100% without feeling guilty that you’re neglecting your business and vice versa.

Here’s how to take time off over Christmas and still keep your holiday rental business running smoothing

Set Boundaries

Plan what days you will take 100% off. This might only be Chritsmas Day and New Years Eve – or just Christmas Day. But decide now and commit to yourself that that’s what you’ll do.

With smart phones and constant messages and notifications it’s hard to “not work”.  Manage this over Christmas.  It might mean turning the data off on your phone. It might be that twice a day you check your emails and check-in with your social media.  Just be strict with yourself and stick to your plan.  The rest of the time – chill!

If you feel the need to be at your PC for bigger chunks of time – schedule this in.  Look at your diary. When do you have some free time? When could you do a couple of hours of work if you needed to?  Block this time out.  Make it clear to children and other family members that you want to spend the next 2 hours undisturbed, so when you sit down to work you’re productive with no distractions.  Set a timer if necessary but don’t spend more time than you planned.

Remember it’s Christmas and you’re taking time off!

Use Autoresponders

Manage guest’s expecations by setting up email autoresponders.  Make it clear when you will be “in the office” checking your emails.   You could add extra information such as “the availability is up to date so if your dates are showing as free, then they are free” to pre-empt the frequently asked questions.  People don’t expect immediate responses from you over Christmas.  And this way their enquiry is being acknowledged and not ignored.

Don’t forget to pop a note in your diary to take off your autorespondoer or update it.

Over Christmas let your online booking feature do its work. If any bookings do come through ensure the automatic email response tells guests when you’ll get back to them in person.

Prepare  NOW

Are you planning to send out an e-newsletter over the festive period? If so write it now and schedule it.

Likewise schedule your social media activity.  Use a free third-party tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your posts in advance on a day and time of your choice.  Between Friday 23 December and Boxing Day it’s highly likely that less people will be online then, so don’t worry about scaling down your activity then.   From Boxing Day onwards however, be mindful that’s when many people’s thoughts turn to booking their holiday for next year.

Plan now what you are going to do. Is it business as usual or do your followers want and expect to see something a bit different from you?  If you’re emailing guests or posting online about any special offers be mindful that it may lead to an increase in enquires so schedule it for a time you’ll be around to respond.

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and pulled in both directions this time as of year – when your family and business want an equal share of you.  With careful planning you can afford to take time off and keep your holiday rental business running smoothly at the same time.  

Happy Christmas!