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How to combine productivity and festivity during the holiday season

It’s been dubbed “the most wonderful time of the year,” but the holiday season can be particularly pressure-filled — especially if you’re balancing business and pleasure. Whether you’re an entrepreneur bootstrapping your company or an entry-level employee trying to get in your boss’s good graces – the struggle is real. While deadlines and workload won’t magically disappear, parties will start popping up to challenge your work ethic. And vacations, no matter who’s taking them, may start to hinder workflow. So how do you keep spirits up without letting productivity go down?

We’ve teamed up with up with Verizon Wireless to get the scoop. Here, four inspiring entrepreneurs give their best advice for having fun during the holidays, while continuing to work towards and deliver on company goals.

Take time to recharge

Time is often considered a limited resource during the holidays. “It may feel like losing any time will kill your business,” says Rajeev Behera, co-founder and CEO of performance management tech company Reflektive, “but when you look back…you’ll realize that taking [these moments] with family matters more than spending every second of the holiday season working,” and adds that the down time is a great opportunity to recharge for what’s to come in the year ahead.  

Tip: If you’re going on vacation, consider swapping your smart watch for a fitness tracker while you’re off the grid. You can use a phone or laptop to check emails semi-regularly, but without the distraction of urgent email requests and meeting alerts.

Business people looking at adhesive notes in conference room

Create a holiday plan — and stick to it

Just because you’re planning a backbreaking business approach to the holiday season doesn’t mean checking out entirely — it means being smarter about the way you spend your time. “Have a realistic plan in place for your business goals and the growth of your business, and clear goals for your team,” Behera says. “Planning well and setting these realistic goals are keys to being able to enjoy the holidays and not set your team and your company back.”

Sarah Kunst agrees, “Planning is key!” Kunst, the founder and CEO of Proday, a subscription-based personal fitness app, says, “We are slammed and building up for the New Year’s resolution rush. Putting plans in place now around how your time will be spent makes it so much easier to work during the rush. Plan ahead and execution goes a lot more smoothly.”

Tip: Set reminders and jot down digital notes using your smartphone. It’s an easy way to keep your personal and career goals on track without immersing yourself in work.

Make celebration a part of the daily grind

Speaking of the holiday rush, don’t let it suck the fun out of your company’s culture. “Make holidays a fun time by doing team events — potluck dinners, secret Santa, and other [like activities will help] balance hard work with a sense of team culture,” says Jordan Wan, Founder and CEO of CloserIQ.

Tip: Consider incentivizing your team through sales contests or offering bonuses and gift cards “to help drive motivation,” Wan says. They’ll associate the holidays with fun instead of dread.

Try to understand other roles and perspectives

While higher ups may be planning to work on Christmas or New Year’s Day, lower-level staff may be less excited (read: not at all excited) to comply. “There’s a big difference between founders, executives and your employees,” Wan says. “It’s not fair to ask everyone to sacrifice their lives [like] a founder of a company [who] may be willing to [work] holidays.”

As an employee it’s important to understand why your presence during the holidays is vital to the company’s success. Hopefully executives will take a moment to explain the situation to the team as transparently as possible, but it’s okay to ask! Knowing may help limit the amount of grumbling and animosity in the event you have to work overtime or limit vacations.

Young man planning a trip with travel map

Communicate Travel Plans

“It’s important that your key personnel — client-facing roles, decision makers, etc. — communicate their holiday travel plans early so you can resolve any issues and allow people to take the time off that they need,” Wan advises. Work with managers to make sure employees are hitting their goals before they take their vacation, and have a clear transfer of knowledge and responsibility so your team isn’t in a lurch if someone can’t be reached.

Tip: Set expectations early on by putting any “must-be-at-work dates” on a communal calendar, this staff can plan time off accordingly. Wan’s team at CloserIQ uses a shared Google calendar to alert the entire company when someone will be out of the office.

Give (and take advantage) of company perks

One way to boost moral is to provide employees with unexpected perks. “Startups give flexibility and choice,” says Julie Fredrickson, co-founder and CEO of Stowaway, a line of “right-sized” makeup products. “You might not get flashy parties and big bonuses, but you can pick your hours and locations in many cases.” Consider giving employees a chance to work from home during the holidays – even bosses may want to do the same.  

Tip: Consider what motivates your team and use that as your perk. It could be working remotely or a special prize. Bonuses that may increase productivity – think phones or tablets – feel like a win for all.

Two cheerful business men shaking hands while their colleagues applauding and smiling in the background

Say ‘thank you’ however you can

“We had to keep our celebrations to a minimum,” Behera remembers of his company’s bootstrapping days, when Reflektive would host gatherings at San Francisco’s garlic-centric Italian restaurant The Stinking Rose. “You don’t need to and often can’t throw a massive party when you’re bootstrapping, but you can pause for a moment from nonstop work to celebrate how far you’ve come. Although I always say ‘thank you’ at our monthly company meetings, and mean this sincerely, it’s important to have this time of year when you pause and reflect on the incredible growth behind you and all that been accomplished in the past 12 months.”

Tip: During the seasonal rush to get product out and meet customers’ demands, it’s all too easy to forget to thank your team for all that they do. But don’t let too many days go by without sharing your appreciation in a way that speaks to company culture and budget. A blow-out, pre-recession–style office party would be nice, but your team will appreciate a small, casual celebration over none at all.

Whether working on the go or pausing to unwind, America’s fastest and largest 4G LTE network makes it possible in more places. Find all the ways to give the gift of Verizon here.