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Here’s how these 16 entrepreneurs switch off at Christmas time

Smart Company, 22 December 2020

Christmas is here, and for many Down Under, this means presents, time with family, lots of food, and a break from work.

However, given most of Australia does take a break for the festive season, the temptation for business owners to use this ‘borrowed time’ to catch up on emails and work is surely irresistible for some.

So, if you are struggling to switch off this Christmas, here are some tried-and-tested tips from fellow entrepreneurs.

Katriina Tahka 

CEO at A-HA

I flew on a plane today for the first time since March, and it reminded me of the oxygen mask analogy. 

Namely, you cannot be effective in helping and serving others if you don’t look after yourself and your health and wellbeing first. 

I often run myself into the ground, especially this year, fearing losing any opportunity or lead, but to be effective next year, I know the number one thing I need to do is laugh, rest, celebrate and feel joy (and not do any more work)!

David Fairfull

CEO and co-founder of Metigy

This is a tough one because I don’t ever really switch off, like many business leaders. 

Having said that, I’m going to take some advice I was given recently which is to use this upcoming break as an opportunity to spend time with my family and friends, and do fun things which I’ve neglected, such as hobbies. 

Sam Arcadipane

Founder of Fusspot Collagen Beauty Tea

My top tip to switch off this Christmas season is to plan and then set the dates you’re going on ‘leave’. 

Then, work towards that final date, inform all of your suppliers and clients so there are no surprises, create an action plan of must-dos that need to be done before your ‘leave’ date, and a to-do list for when you return. 

And then, on that day, pack away the laptop and start spending time doing something else you love that you haven’t done all year.

Sarah Cichy

Founder of Piccolo PR and Cali Lash Eye Lash

I’ve recently discovered yoga, which helps me connect my body and mind.     

As a businesswoman, you never really ‘switch off’, and I don’t necessarily want to. I love business, dream about it, talk about it, and constantly workshop creative ideas in my head. It’s part of who I am, and it’s fun. 

What I can say, however, is if you don’t take the time to be still, present and conscious, your business will eventually suffer. 

Christmas is the time to enjoy family, embrace the slow down, and be present.

Ben Lucas

Director at Flow Athletic

Turn your phone, computer and iPad off, and just be present where you are, with who you are with.

Brodie Haupt

CEO and co-founder of WLTH

Have kids. It’ll force you to switch off from work. 

But generally, you will be resetting and switching on for the new year, rather than switching off.

Justine Alter

Co-founder and director Transitioning Well

Be intentional about it. Make sure you put an out-of-office on and clearly communicate to others that you’re taking a break. 

People aren’t mind-readers, and if you can state your intention, it’s easier to be held accountable. 

Sharon Williams

Founder and CEO at Taurus Marketing

There is only one ‘you’. If you go down it all goes down. 

You have to be at your best at all times, so treat yourself as carefully as your business and rest.

Anthony Zaccaria

Co-founder of Linktree

This year, I’m setting myself a personal challenge — one I invite others to try too. 

I’m aiming to keep my laptop closed for the entire break. The whole time — not even cracking it to complete a quick task, or to do something personal.

Instead, my aim is to focus on switching off. Whether reading — I’ve got a mix of both business and fiction lined up — or cooking, I’m going to actively focus on cathartic activities, knowing that I’ll be all the better in the new year for having had a decent break. 

Laura Keily

Founder and managing director of Immediation

As many know, there is no off switch when you’re a tech founder. It’s a profession that holds you accountable to investors, clients, partners and users, and requires your attention 24/7. 

Combine that with being a practising barrister and it means that I am constantly working.

My top tip is to make the conscious choice to leave your phone behind and immerse yourself in traditions of slowness. 

Balancing two demanding careers, I spend most of the year at breakneck speed, so finding mindful practices to do with the people I love during this time of year has been helpful for ‘switching off’. 

Each year, my children and I spend two days making a gingerbread house from scratch, filling it with chocolates and lollies. It then gets smashed in about two minutes flat. 

As I don’t have time to do much cooking throughout the year, it’s a tradition that I like to hold onto.

Lisa Cox

Director at Muse Management

As someone who has struggled with this, I’ve found the best way has not been to go ‘cold turkey’ straight away and be hard on myself if I can’t completely switch off on day one of the holidays. 

Instead, I ease myself into the festive season doing less work every day, until doing nothing no longer makes me anxious and fidgety. 

Carla King-Turner

Founder of Mooi and U & The Greenhouse Retreats

Plan! Running holiday retreats means you have to be accessible, however, if everything is in place you shouldn’t need to be contacted at all outside of an emergency.

Set yourself realistic expectations of ‘switching off’. 

I know that totally letting go can be just as stressful, especially in a small business like mine. 

I always find I like to use my holiday time to work on something I have not had time for during a normal workweek. It’s a great time to come up with new ideas, strategies and plan for the new year.

David Holmes

CEO at Fergus 

Don’t switch off. Summer holidays are a great time for reflection and to not be caught up in daily operations. 

It’s a good time to dream of where the company can be, but do it while having a surf or hitting a golf ball. 

Great business thinking and planning often happens out of the office.

Barbara Hyman

CEO of PredictiveHire

For me, it’s talking to my kids over back-to-back games of ‘cheat’, and asking them about what innovations would blow them away. 

My kids are so ‘ho hum’ when it comes to cool 21st-century innovations such as Google Maps, UberEats and Spotify, that they take it all for granted. So, being able to talk to them candidly about what they would like to see is very rewarding. 

It’s amazing to really immerse yourself in their worlds for a week. Cyberpunk 2077, anyone?

Jason Waller

CEO of InteliCare

Aeroplane mode, it’s not just for flights.

Terry Roberts

Founder and CEO WhiteHawk

Work as hard as you can before the holidays to make sure everything is in order. Leverage your team to the max, push all the way, and then let it go. 

You’ll know you’ve done everything you can to get your business in order and you’ll be able to switch off and renew yourself. 

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