Lessons learned from running a business during the holidays


Running your own business is challenging enough, but having to juggle childcare during the school holidays can make it even more so. Especially if your business only consists of you!

Being your own boss has many advantages, especially the ability to be flexible. Though sometimes this can feel like a curse when you have to wrestle with how to divide your time.

Rather than breathing a sigh of relief and trying to forget about it until next year. What can be learned?

Afterall, if we can negotiate the holidays, the rest of the year should be plain sailing….

Working with limited time

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion".
Parkinson’s Law

Things still need to be done despite having less time.
Though, having limited windows of time seemed to do wonders for my productivity.
Perhaps the time pressure helped keep me focused. Maybe even shorter bursts made it easier for me to maintain higher levels of productivity.

So, is there a way to maintain this level of productivity out with the pressure of the holidays?

Something I've found helpful is the Pomodoro Technique. This is a simple method of working for 25 minutes then taking a short break. However, I found that 50 minutes bursts seem to work better for me. Working to a clock adds a sense of pressure and the breaks seem to keep me fresh.

Making space

Juggling all kinds of conflicting demands can take its toll. It’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start with the seemingly unmanageable pile of tasks.

Taking time out to recharge is really important. Here’s a fantastic article explaining how you’re in great company if you do.

Seeking solace in a café allowed me to reflect on how things are going, what needs to be done and what challenges need to be tackled. Essentially, giving myself space to get my thoughts together.
While counter-intuitive, taking time out greatly improved my productivity.

Finding balance

It’s fantastic being able to be about during the holidays with your kids. However, there is work to be done.

There is a real danger of feeling guilty while you are working. Then thinking about the work you “should” be doing when spending time with your family. You can't win!

To be honest, I’m not sure a true work-life balance is achievable, but I certainly don’t like the feeling of my desk calling me when I’m playing with my kids.

Blocking off time to ensure the work gets done frees up the rest of the day. This sounds fairly straight forward, but I’ve found that the implementation of this can be tricky.You need to know what you are going to do, where you are going to do it and be sure you'll be free from distraction.

The key is to be strict. You need to be able to rely on having this time. Otherwise, you’ll have that nagging doubt that things won’t get done.

Accepting constraints

The school holidays throw up many constraints to prevent us getting our work done.
However, is this really different to any other time?

We are all constrained by many things; energy, time and money to name a few.
Maybe the answer is to accept them and figure out how best to work with them.

The more I do this, I find I’m easier on myself, happier, and better able to integrate work into my life.