Holiday work

I recently received an automated email from Neil Patel about why he works during the holidays. The first thing that went through my mind was, “How stupid is that?” Working during the holidays, especially during Christmas and New Year, is absurd. It does not help your clients and it does not help you. If you need to use this time to catch up or get ahead, then you are not running your small business very well.

I am sure Neil is a great guy and means well, but by suggesting that working through the holidays is a good thing, he will make other entrepreneurs and small business owners believe they should too if they want to achieve success. That is nonsense. While I am certainly not as successful as Neil, I have done quite well by most measures (though my desire for money is far less than his, based on what he has written). My business is successful and it is so without having to work over the holidays.

I am not suggesting that you ignore everything during the holidays. We keep staff on call during the holidays in case of client emergencies, but no one is working regular hours. In fact, I forbid it. People are to take the week off—no exceptions. Our clients do not expect us to work during the holidays either. They are not doing so themselves and it would be callous to expect us to do so. If your clients are expecting you to work during the holidays, it better be because of their business model (that is, it is directly related to holidays). Otherwise, you need to find better clients.

Everyone needs a rest, including you. Sure, I am writing this post, but it’s not really work (as you might have noticed, I do not follow my own advice to clients on content marketing and instead only write when I feel like it). Taking the time to have a break, enjoy your life, and spend time with your friends and family is extremely important. Small business owners are busy all year. This is the one time of year that most people have the opportunity to take a break. Take advantage of it and recharge. It will improve you mental outlook and performance, as well as your employees’.

If you think that you need this time to catch up, or get ahead, as Neil suggests for one of his reasons to work during the holidays, then you aren’t managing your business well. If you manage your business appropriately, hire the correct staff, and delegate work you should not be behind schedule. If you are so behind schedule that you need the holidays to catch up, then you are doing your clients a disservice anyway. Taking a break during the holidays is not going to have any impact. I have nothing to catch up on or to get ahead on because I do what is necessary when it is necessary. That is the hallmark of good management.

Neil also wrote that he works 70 hours a week… because he wants to, not because he has to. Yet, he cannot find time to think about his business strategy. I find that a bit shocking. Every business should take the time to do appropriate strategy sessions. If not, your business will not be as successful as it could be. Ditto for his comments about taxes‚Äö√Ñ√Æthat is something you and your accounting team think about throughout the year, not just during the holidays. Seriously, if you are just trying to slam those in during the holidays you are doing yourself, your business, your employees, and your clients a huge disservice.

I might not be as successful as Neil, but then again he is working during the holidays and I am not. My staff is not overworked and tired, and they get to spend time with their friends and family, and go on a vacation. I am (more than) financially comfortable, and I am relaxing with friends, having a nice Christmas brunch and going ice-skating before having a nice dinner in the evening. Short of a full-blown emergency, I will not be working. And I doubt there will be an emergency because I have already done the appropriate planning to ensure there will not be one. My business strategy for first quarter of next year is complete and I have given thought to my tax situation. I have not had to catch up or get ahead because everything is done, as it should be. The only “work” I have done is spend 30 minutes on this post.

Do not think that working like Neil Patel is the way to be successful. Yes, hard work is important, but working smart is more important. It is not smart to work as much as he does and to work during the holidays. You only wear yourself out and make yourself less effective. Take the time to find the work life balance that works for you. Determine what is most important to you and keep your perspective. Remember, success is not only measured by money. Security and time spent with those you care about or doing what is important to you is more important and far more rewarding than working during the holiday to catch up or get ahead. If you think you need to catch up or get ahead, then reevaluate your business because you are not doing it right.

Happy holidays!

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