School summer holidays are fast approaching, and if you run your own business, you already know the additional pressure you will feel trying to juggle work while entertaining the kids (remember homeschooling, anyone?)

If you are staring down the barrel of six+ weeks of juggling, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to be able to create space.

And it isn’t just the pressure of your work. If your team has time off over the summer too – you need to decide if you are going to cover their work, or bring in temporary cover. You also need to know if clients want work delivered before you take time out so that they don’t panic when you do. 

You may already be panicking, wondering how you’re going to make time for your business, your children and yourself. You’d love nothing more than taking a day off to spend proper time with the children, without feeling pressure that you aren’t working. Or, on the flip side of the coin, feeling ‘Mum/Dad guilt’ for prioritising work when the kids are at home.  

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have the flexibility to take an afternoon off when the sun is shining, to have lunch with a friend without feeling guilty and/or suffering the workload consequences?

Well, if you want to hit September feeling refreshed and accomplished, not frustrated and frazzled then read on…

The tips I’m about to share with you will help you feel more calm and in control ahead of, and during the summer break, and can be used all year round. 

Five hacks to reclaim your summer

Before the children break up from school, college or nursery, spend some time taking a bird’s eye view of the summer period. Following these tips will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and out of control before the holiday season begins.

Look at the bigger picture and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the bigger vision in your business? Where do you want to be in 12 months – or even in three years time? Why? What’s the motivational driver for you? Keep that in mind over the next few months, or any time you feel stuck. 
  • What do you want to achieve in the next three months? Keeping your sales pipeline topped up, so you can ensure consistent revenue streams? Do you want to launch a course or programme in September?
  • What do you want to achieve for you? Are you taking a  holiday? Do you want to take time off to be with the family and go for days out, or an afternoon swim? You need time for yourself too. Add it into the bigger picture.

 Be realistic and plan for the time you have

  • How much time do you have? If you know you have two hours less a day, or two days less per week to achieve this then don’t cram in more work than you have time for. 
  • Working back from the bigger plan for Autumn, what do you need to achieve in July and August to get there? How about week by week? Break it down into smaller steps that are more realistic and easier to achieve. Once you reach these smaller steps you’ll start to feel more accomplished and more in control.
  • What could derail your plans? When are your clients away, and will they need you to steer the ship? How about your team members? Your VA, web designer, coach? 
  • Diarise everyone’s absences as well as your own so that you can manage and mitigate the pressure points. If you can plan in advance you’ll be prepared for all eventualities.

Create some healthy boundaries

This one is mission-critical. Once you have decided what needs to happen and when, communicate this to everyone involved.

  • Let your clients know when you are away and how you plan to manage their work. Or, let them know when you will be working and available to them so that you’re providing them with the reassurance that you will still deliver. 
  • Show the plan to your team too and explain where you might need them to take on additional work or increase their working hours temporarily, or where you plan to outsource to cover the time. 

This will free your time up, put their minds at rest and maybe inspire them to do the same. 

  • Set boundaries with your children and family. Your kids need to know when you are working and when you will be spending time with them. Paint them the picture and explain why it’s important that you maintain your work plans. This may mean that they need to go to summer camp, or stay with grandparents, or your teenagers will need to understand that their taxi-service has ‘off hours’ so their demands will need to wait. 

Explaining the boundaries to everyone you live and work with and why you are doing them will alleviate the guilt, allow them to plan better, and avoid overwhelming yourself.

Keep yourself accountable

Did you know that if you write a plan down, you are 65% more likely to achieve it than if it’s all planned out in your head? Which makes sense, but did you also know that if you tell someone else about your plan and hold yourself accountable, you increase that percentage to 95%?*

Find an accountability buddy to share your progress with. Share your dreams and plans and the obstacles that might get in your way, and return the favour for them. 

A word of caution here – make sure that this person is invested in your business but not personally connected. You don’t need additional agendas involved, but you do need someone who has skin in the game. If not, your buddy-system could just add to both your workloads and be counterproductive. 

Work with a coach or mentor, or join a managed accountability group to provide the support that you need.

Be Kind To Yourself

The steps above are sensible, but this is the most important of all, and probably the most likely to be neglected. 

You started a business to do what you love to do and to provide for yourself and your family. To have the flexibility and freedom to do what you want to do from time to time. That time is probably now. 

Make sure that you build in time for yourself in Step1 and timeblock it. 

Plan in time to do whatever brings you joy – it could be daily meditation or walking an extra half an hour because it feels good. Or giving yourself permission to stop at the weekend and read/sing/see friends. 

Juggling work, life and everyone else’s expectations is tiring and you deserve to spend some time on yourself too. Top up your cup regularly and you’ll be happier, healthier, and be more productive when you are in work-mode.

Once you have created a plan for the summer and implemented it, simply rinse and repeat throughout the year.

Running your own business, charity or enterprise is challenging enough, so be kind to yourself, communicate with your clients, your team and your family and enjoy the summer break.

*The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD)