Worried about how much work you still have to do before Christmas or haven’t quite found the time to nut out your small business’s plan for 2018? The last thing you need this festive season is to be feeling stressed about work. Here’s what you can do to make ensure you can enjoy a healthy and happy break – even if you do have to work a little.

1. Get your priorities right

Before you officially finish work for the year, create a to-do list of things that need to be done before the new year and then another for the first few weeks of January. This will help you prioritise your tasks and not feel overwhelmed – or that you need to sacrifice all of your holiday time to achieve them. Time management expert Les Watson’s top tips for this are to create an A + B list system. As have to be done today whereas Bs get done after the As. Prioritising your workload will reduce the urgency and ease your mind.

2. Take care of yourself

Small business owners often feel overworked because they wear so many hats – owner, marketer, bookkeeper, customer sales manager … the list goes on. It can be draining, require a lot of hours and be quite stressful. But a healthy business requires a healthy boss, which means keeping yourself energised physically through regular exercise, a balanced diet and good sleep patterns. Of course it’s tempting to over-indulge through the Christmas period, but try not to overdo it. It’s also about good mental health. Taking regular breaks from the business allows you to recharge, become re-energised and motivated to make your small business thrive.

3. Time management is key

Part of the drawback about being a small business owner is that you are always “on”. You are the one responsible for it all, which means invariably posting on social media on weekends, paying bills on the fly and responding to emails late at night when on the couch. Avoid that constant crossover between business time and family time by allocating strict, yet reasonable, hours in any given day to focus on work. Turn your computer off when you are not on ‘work time’ and avoid checking your emails on your smartphone, too. Plan your work-related time with your family so you can feel as though you’ve accomplished all you need to, and avoid the FOMO you’d have if they planned a huge adventure without you.

4. Separate work and pleasure

During busy holiday periods small business owners face additional pressures – there are still things to be done to keep your business rolling but you may find yourself inundated with visiting friends and family, especially if your Bellarine home is a magnet for others looking for their own ‘getaway’. Finding a way to physically separate yourself from your guests and family for the time that you have allocated as ‘work’ is the best way to have your cake and eat it too. This advice transfers to those who run tourism-related businesses such as holiday accommodation, and have guests who are in the same boat – they are on a break but need to work and don’t want to impinge too much on family time. Being able to go somewhere close by which offers professional desks for hire, high-speed internet and a quiet environment to laser focus on your work is an invaluable option. The Business Hub at Queenscliff Marina has desks available for as little as $50 a day and meeting rooms for hire if you need to meet clients while on holiday.

It’s important for small business owners to remember what holidays are all about – celebrating the festive season with family, good friends and maybe a nice wine or two. It’s definitely not the time to be feeling stressed or overwhelmed about a huge pile of work that you feel needs to be done. The good news is that with a little bit of planning, you can get the balance right and really enjoy your valuable relaxation time.