How to take time off while maintaining a great client experience

Cynthia Diwar

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Hi, I'm Cynthia

December is just around the corner, which means that it is time for me to prepare to step away from my business to enjoy the holidays by slowing down and being with my family. Honestly, the thought of stepping away from my business, even just for a couple of weeks, kind of scares me. Running a business is more than just my job–it has become a key part of my life. While I absolutely love running this business, I also need to acknowledge the importance of rest and intentionally choose to be with my family and friends at this time of the year.

Today I want to share with you the strategy I use for preparing for the holiday season. These are tips that you should start to implement NOW (not on December 23) so that you feel ready to turn down the hustle and be fully present with your loved ones. 

How to take time off & maintain a great client experience 4

Taking time off requires discipline. 

As entrepreneurs, taking a break can seem to be the hardest thing in the world. Would you agree? Business owners are constantly checking email, responding to comments on social media, and working on projects. Maybe you’ve gotten to the point where you feel like going on vacation and taking time off is impossible. 

Have you ever said to yourself, “Okay, I’m not going to work this weekend” —but by 11 a.m. on Saturday morning you’ve already checked your email inbox to  see if you are needed? No judgement if this is you. I am guilty of doing this too. 

Changing your mindset is the first step towards finding freedom in taking time off.

Repeat after me: Things CAN wait. Your inquiries can wait. Your clients don’t need (or expect) a response from you within five minutes. You have permission to be unavailable. This is so important, and I don’t think we pay enough attention to the potential damages that come with being constantly on the go. I especially love the saying “you are a human-being, not a human-doing”. However, we are sadly living in a world that worships productivity and efficiency, even when our souls are craving stillness. 

This might sound funny, but train yourself to relax. Taking time off isn’t impossible, it just takes a lot of discipline and a mindset switch. But you’ve got this!

Decide how long of a break you would like to take

Now that you have a healthy mindset towards rest, it’s time to determine how many days or weeks (or even months, you do you!) you want to take off. I personally choose to take a two week break over Christmas, this year from December 21 to January 4. 

Once you’ve decided on the length of your holiday, mark it down on your calendar. If you have an online booking system for your clients, remember to block the dates out so that no one can schedule anything during that period of time. 

Next step: Set boundaries

This looks different for everyone. I have personally decided to not do any client work or respond to any work emails during the holidays, but I won’t stop myself if I’m feeling extra creative and want to write a blog post or two. 

Some boundaries I set for myself:

  • No client work
  • No work emails
  • No big projects
  • Going on social media is okay, but I won’t post anything related to my business
  • Writing a blog post or two is okay if I feel like it

Not too difficult, right? Writing down your boundaries definitely helps set the tone for your holiday break. There are no set rules, so do what works best for you. But remember, the point here is to find rest. Setting a boundary like “I won’t do any client work, but will revamp my website” kind of misses the point. Be mindful of how what you decide to do can determine the overall flow of your time off. 

3 questions to consider:

  • What are the things that are an absolute no
  • What are some things on your regular to-do list that feel heavy? Eliminate them for the holidays! Trust me, your business will survive if you don’t post something every day.
  • What can you automate? 

Keep your priorities straight

 It’s common to have some half-finished projects at this time of year that need to be completed, and it can be tempting to pull a few all-nighters to try to wrap up ALL outstanding jobs. Trust me, I know the feeling. But, realistically speaking, what are the chances of you finishing ALL your current projects before Christmas? Not very likely.

In order to avoid burnout right before the holidays, write down the tasks that you absolutely have to get done in the next couple of weeks. I am sure there are things on your to-do list that can wait a little longer. Be gracious to yourself and don’t push yourself too hard. Take a closer look at your to-do list and determine what needs to be tended to and then put those things in order based on urgency. 

Communicate with your clients

Don’t forget to communicate your upcoming “out of office” plan with your clients in a timely manner. They need to know when you will start your time away and when you will be back in the office. This is key to providing great client experience and keeping clients in the loop so that there is no misunderstanding or confusion. 

A couple of emails you should set up:

  1. Out of office notice (to be sent out to your clients 2 weeks before going on holiday) 
  2. Auto-response  

First out of office notice:

Subject: Happy Holidays! I’m Out of the Office [DATE]

Hi [name],

This is a friendly reminder that I will be out of the office from [DATE] to [DATE]. I will officially be back to regular office hours on [DATE].

In an effort to step away from my business and be fully present with my loved ones during this time, I will not be checking emails or scheduling any work-related meetings or calls. Please rest assured that your project timeline will not be affected in any way. We will quickly get back on track after the holiday season. 

If there is anything you would like me to work on before I go on holiday, please request those tasks to me prior to [date] to ensure that I have enough time to complete them.

I appreciate your understanding and I truly hope that you will also have a wonderful, rested holiday this year.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Cynthia

Auto-response email:

Subject: Happy Holidays! I’m Out of the Office

Hi!

Thank you so much for your email. I am currently out of the office for the holidays and am spending some good quality time with my friends and family. I will be back in the office on [date].

If you are a client, you’re my top priority. 

If you want to connect with me and learn more about my services, you can fill out this form and schedule a free consultation for when I return to work.

If you want to follow along with my Christmas movie marathon, follow me on Instagram!

Thank you,

Cynthia

Make a to-do list for your first day back

The final thing you should do to get your business ready for the holidays, is make a to-do list for your first day back in the office. I’ve learned this tip from Jenna of In the Details, Darling and absolutely love it!

We all know that the holiday blues is a real thing and can make it hard to focus when returning to work. Having a clearly laid out to-do list can help you focus on the things you need to attend to first. This will help ensure peace of mind that you are not forgetting anything important. 

I hope this is helpful and encourages you to think outside the box and develop a healthy relationship with rest. I know “leaving” your business for a couple of weeks is not the easiest thing to do, but I promise you it will be worth it! 

Want more free tips and exclusive templates? Join my email fam here!

How do you prepare for the holidays as a small business owner? Are you going to implement any of the tips I’ve mentioned above? 

Related blog posts:

How to take time off & maintain a great client experience 9

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