Lists

The Must-Use Checklist for Getting Stuff Done Before the Holidays

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The holidays should be a time to unwind, relax and visit with family. But all too often it means catching up on work for entrepreneurs. You know you’re guilty of it. Sneaking away during dinner to check on a project or write an email. Or using your “time off” as time to check off looming to-do's. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s a checklist to ensure you have some downtime to enjoy holiday cheer this year:

Plan ahead

This is time to get out your pen and paper and run through all the stuff that’s still on your plate. All the meetings, reports, writing assignments and other tasks need to be put down on paper. That way you have everything out in front of you. Make two lists:  One, for what needs to get done before the holidays and the other for what can wait until you get back from your break.

Related: The 3 Lists Every Entrepreneur Must Make

Purge your to-do list

As you look at the lists you’ve just made really be really honest with yourself about what actually needs to get done before the holidays. There are some tasks that keep popping up that actually don’t need to be a burden anymore. It can be so liberating to finally decide that now is not the time to redesign your website. Own your decision and move on.

Outsource

Take that list and determine what you can give to someone else. That can be someone on your team or a freelancer that you hire for this specific task only. Think of this as the gift you give yourself for the holidays, as time is priceless.

Related: 5 Tips to Optimize Your Time as an Entrepreneur

Automate

Now that you have the list of tasks you need to tackle in front of you, assess what can be automated. For example, you can use email shortcuts like Boomerang for Gmail to pre-write emails and schedule them to send out in the future. So set aside some time to get emails off your plate and delivered while you relax on the couch with some eggnog.

Be upfront

Tell your clients you will be unavailable during this time. Send out a brief email or add a note to your signature stating you won’t be answering emails or phone calls during the holidays. Make sure you give the dates so they’ll know when you're back on the clock.

Enjoy

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how to just let go and relax. But when you feel yourself nervously reaching for your iPhone, stop. Take a deep breath and remember you’ve set yourself up for success with all the planning you did ahead of time. Give yourself permission to be present and enjoy your holiday festivities -- crazy relatives and all.

Related: What Needs to Go on Your 'Stop Doing' List?