It’s mid-November which means it’s time to start planning your end of year VACATION. (Yes, you can still call it a vacation if you stay home in your pjs for two weeks)
Now let me confess, the first couple of years in my business I did not do this. I might have put it in my calendar but I would still end up working on projects and responding to emails in the midst of my supposed vacation.
What a great boss I was back then, huh?
To help you avoid my mistake, I first want to encourage you to completely shut down your business for at least a week at some point at the end of the year or the beginning of next year.
And second, this week on the podcast I’m sharing the steps I take to make sure I can focus on family, food, and watching endless hours of Netflix (let’s be honest here) and not have my to-do list interrupt my chill even once!
I really want to encourage you to completely shut down your business for at least a week. Generally, once I realized that vacations were a good idea, I would take off the last two weeks in December, but then last year I thought why the heck am I forcing myself to go back to work on the first Monday in January?!
I pushed everything in my calendar back a week and gave myself an extra week off and it was awesome. Which means I’m doing it again this year. Three weeks completely off! I’m gonna put my phone in a drawer, hide my laptop in the closet, and really let myself detox from social media. Not necessarily from showing up because I have that fairly systematized but definitely from scrolling.
Today I thought I would share some of the things that you can start doing this month and through the beginning of December so that when it comes to taking time off you don’t feel like you are rushing to finish things, or leaving your clients or customers waiting to hear from you, or feeling like if you take time off you’re gonna lose business.
First, you wanna decide are you going to keep showing up on social? Are you gonna keep sending emails? Or, are you going to literally turn everything off for a couple of weeks and disappear? Either option is fine. You just don’t want to be creating anything while you’re trying to take a vacation.
My plan is to do a little bit of content and then pretty much disappear from everything. Which means my job right now is finishing content and projects, boosting my sales a little bit (we’re gonna talk about how Black Friday can help that), and pre-scheduling content to auto-post starting at the beginning of December.
Repost popular content
Let’s start with scheduling content for social media, emails, podcast episodes, blog posts – wherever you’re showing up so that you don’t have to spend time creating anything.
This is something that you want to have a system for in general but if you don’t this is the time to get it going. To do this, collect all of your best content (all of your Instagram posts that got engagement, generated clients + customers, clicks to your website, follows). You can go through IG insights to find this information and then copy and paste all of the images and all of the captions into a Google doc.
I actually use Airtable for my content planning system, so there is a checkbox for each piece of contact that will let me know that I should repost it which makes this process even easier and something that I can and will hand off to my assistant. (If you want to see that, it is of course inside Dare to Grow. Look for the Content Planning Workshop in the main Dare to Grow course. Visit daretogrow.co to get access to that.)
You can do the same thing with podcast episodes, with emails you sent, with blog posts. Then you are going to reschedule all of that top content to repost again. Yes, you can use the same images and the same captions. For things like blog posts, you could take those and send them as emails or use the content to create an Instagram post or read through it to create a podcast episode. You just don’t want to be creating brand new contact from scratch. We want to start saving time right now.
I know some of you are going to start getting worried about people seeing the same stuff and that being annoying to your audience. Remember, not all of your audience sees all of your content. Even the people who are really paying attention to you, they’re still not gonna see everything. Even if they did see it and read it or watch the video there’s a good chance they don’t completely remember or they could use a reminder so don’t be worried about repeating stuff. People need to hear your message multiple times in order to take action. You’re not being annoying, you are giving them more opportunities to hear from you.
For things like podcasts, blog posts, or YouTube you can create a playlist. My plan is to publish two podcast episodes in December and then I’m gonna take a break. Either in December or maybe in that first week of January I will send out an email, or maybe it’ll be an Instagram post, with a list of my top 10 podcast episodes from the past year. If you all do miss me and you want to hear from me while I’m on vacation, you can just go back through my best content. I already did this toward the end of summer and that week showed a big boost in my podcast stats.
Now, your other option is to just stop posting for a couple weeks. Usually, when I completely disappear I will post a little something on Instagram or send an email to my list letting them know I’m taking a few weeks off, but you don’t have to do that. You can literally just stop posting and show up again in January. Everyone will survive.
Set boundaries with clients and customers
I find that my clients and students inside of Dare to Grow are usually also taking time off at the end of the year, so they’re not showing up every day looking for help anyway. But because they’re paying, and there’s definitely an expectation there you do want to let them know how long you’ll be taking time off, how to contact you if there’s an emergency, when you’ll be back, who to contact instead.
For example, if something really goes wrong my assistant is in my Facebook group and has my phone number so she can jump in and help or she can contact me.
In general, I’ll probably check in with my Dare to Grow members and my clients once or twice a week instead of every day and that’s usually fine because they are taking time off as well.
Let’s talk about your inbox
I think this is the thing that usually is the biggest headache to come back to because most companies keep sending emails during this time.
First, you are 100% allowed to completely ignore your inbox for a week. Everyone will be fine. You can answer their emails when you get back.
My students and clients already know that emailing me it’s not the way to get help. I’ve put that in place already. D2G Members know that I pay more attention to the Facebook group than I do my inbox. Clients check in on Slack, not my inbox. That already helps make sure that everyone who has paid for help from me still gets attention if they need it.
You can also just say I take X number of weeks off at the end of the year and I’m not available during that time. Remember, you’re the boss, you’re the CEO, you’re the person who makes the rules and sets the boundaries and they can be whatever you want. As long as you give people advance notice and set expectations everyone will be ok.
I actually saw someone a couple years ago who created an out of office email that says they’re on vacation on these dates and that their inbox would be cleared when they returned, so if what you’re sending is important please resend it after a certain date. I actually might do that this year.
Again, a reminder to set boundaries to help yourself and help the people that paid you, and don’t worry about everyone else. If somebody really wants something from you they will send you another email. They already do it for all kinds of junk so they’ll definitely do it again.
Now if you run a business that does need customer service support during the weeks you are on vacation, hire some extra help. I guarantee there are a lot of people this year looking for a little extra cash and if that means they have to babysit your inbox and respond to some customer support inquiries, that’s much easier than getting a seasonal job at Target. I’ve worked retail for many years and it is the worst in December so you could really be helping someone out.
It doesn’t have to be a full-on job posting. You can literally reach out to your audience, reach out to your personal network on Facebook and see if someone is available to check your inbox a couple times a week, respond to customers and clients and delete all of the garbage.
One of the things I am creating for this purpose so that I can completely check out, is a list for my assistant of types of emails and what to do with them. Some of them just say delete, some say stick into my folder and I will respond, and some are frequently asked questions with the answer to send back. Just imagine what it would be like to come back in January, open your inbox, and have like 10 emails to respond to and that’s it. I get excited just thinking about that.
Plan your Q1 now
So that you don’t have to force yourself to come back on the first Monday in January, or feel like you’re falling behind the whole time, or worry about things that you weren’t able to finish – you need to create your Q1 plan in December so that everything has a space in your schedule and a time to be completed. This task is literally for your sanity.
You do not want to be in the middle of making Christmas cookies with your kids or watching movies or going shopping and thinking about what is still on your to-do list or thinking I’ll have some time after Christmas before New Year’s when I’ll work on this. No. No working during your time off.
Put a note in your calendar sometime in the next couple of weeks and sit down and plan out what you’re going to be doing for January, February, and March. Then plan out your tasks for January. Trust me this will make it so much easier to stay focused on not doing anything while you’re on vacation.
About Black Friday
Black Friday is going to be a really good way to pad your bank account so that you feel comfortable taking time off. The easiest way to do a Black Friday deal is to just put a discount on things which totally works but I like to add a few extras which people don’t get access to through the rest of the year for a little extra incentive to buy.
This year it will be a year’s membership to Dare to Grow at a discount and also a handful of 60-minute coaching sessions because I know those can really light a fire in your business. I’ll also be sharing Black Friday discounts for some of the companies that I am an affiliate for because that usually turns into a really nice payday in January.
Bundles also work really well for Black Friday or adding in extra coaching or bonuses. If you don’t usually do one on one coaching this is a great time to offer up a handful of spots.
You can also presell on Black Friday. One of my Dare to Grow members is opening a program in January and she is going to sell spots at a discount on Black Friday even though people won’t get access for a couple of months. As long as people know when they will get the thing you can sell it on Black Friday.
Before you go and create a new bonus, dig back through some of the stuff you already created because you might be able to pull some stuff together to create a bonus. The google doc that I write all of my podcast episodes in is long enough now with a year of podcast episodes to create a book. Literally, I just checked. It’s 80,000 words – that is a book.
Check back through everything that you’ve created. Maybe you did a workshop at the beginning of the year and you can package that up and sell it. Even if a few people went through it – even if a ton of people went through it – there are still people who didn’t.
I hope those steps help you feel prepared to take time off so that you don’t keep thinking about work, and what you should be doing, and what you’re going to have to do when you go back to work. Figure out your boundaries and communicate that to customers and clients. Repost old content to fill in any social or platforms that you want to keep going while you’re on vacation or to give you some more space in your schedule before you take time off. Plan what’s going to happen in January so every project and every task already has a space in your schedule. Then make some extra cash so that you can go do some fun stuff during your vacation or buy yourself a nice little present.
Head over to Instagram, find me @XOSarahMorgan, and tell me, how much time are you taking off this year.? No excuses, I want to see your answer. If you have any tricks for making time off easier I would love to hear those too. Come hang out with me on Instagram and let’s discuss.