3 Tips for Balancing Work and the Jewish Calendar
Passover is coming, and with it, some serious anxiety about how it’s going to impact my productivity here at Books and Blintzes.
Now don’t get me wrong. I actually love celebrating Passover! It’s a holiday that requires me to do lots of experimental cooking (kosher for Passover recipes have come a long way!) and reading preparation (there’s always a new hagaddah to explore!). But the cooking and cleaning and actual observance of yom tov, not to mention taking care of house guests and a child on a school break, doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for checking in, let alone keeping up, at the office.
The good news is, that it IS possible to celebrate the Jewish holidays in a meaningful way while keeping on track with our entrepreneurial goals. Here are my 3 main strategies for striking the balance between a joyful Pesach and keeping my work on-track.
1. Plan Ahead:
With tools like hebcal.com, Jewish holidays can be added to our work years in advance. While working for ourselves often means that our schedules are unpredictable, the Jewish holidays are not. My strategy is to ensure that routine tasks are identified and taken care of ahead of time, leaving me with the creative energy I need to deal with the surprises that will come up. Using social media posting services such as Buffer helps me to plan out my strategic content, giving me the flexibility to respond to more urgent matters.
The month before Jewish holidays are also an excellent time to double check your financial tools. I’ll be taking an extra look (and then another) at my cash flow and preparing all bill payments. The true meaning of freedom? The security of knowing that what you’ve been working on will still be there waiting for you. And on that note, make sure to schedule a back-up of your electronic files a few days in advance. Just in case.
2. Manage Expectations:
At work, at home, and in your own head, the Jewish holidays come with a whole lot of expectations. Whether you are traditionally observant and taking off for the chagim means being completely unplugged or you want to take the time to focus on something else, make sure you let your clients know ahead of time that things are going to slow down. While an out-of-office message on your voicemail, texts, and email are essential, help lessen everyone’s frustration by giving them a heads-up that you’ve got a couple of weeks that are not going to be business as usual.
Will you be traveling? Provide specific times and issues about which you CAN be reached. Does your family expect you to give them your unexpected attention while they visit for 10 days? Will you have additional community obligations? Now is the time to talk to ANYONE who believes they have a claim on your time and attention over the holidays. Spend some time thinking about what you will need from others (2 hours of uninterrupted computer or telephone time? unfettered access to a vehicle for client visits?) and what you can offer in return (grocery shopping? alternating child care with neighbors?). Setting these expectations in advance will prevent additional frustration and interrupted productivity when the holidays are in full swing.
3. Make the Holidays Work for You
For Jewish entrepreneurs, the holidays present an extra complication. Yes we want to take time to celebrate with our families and communities, but often our work load intensifies as we turn our efforts to ensuring that our customers and audiences have the tools they need to maximize their holiday experiences. This is when it helps to remember why we are so committed to our organizations. Ideally, our work encourages communication between ourselves and those we serve. What instruments have you developed to collect feedback from your customers? Jotform.com, Google Forms, Survey Monkey, and other programs can help you gather invaluable information to help you direct your efforts the next time the holidays roll around. Knowing that you are spending your time creating resources and providing services that meet your organizational goals and audiences’ needs will give your morale an extra boost to make sure that things get done!
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A life long reader and food lover, Rabbi Deborah Miller founded Books and Blintzes to share her enthusiasm for the worlds of Jewish literature and cuisine. Understanding that the creative arts are one of the fundamental ways in which people express their connection to Judaism and that our diversity is one of the Jewish community’s greatest resources, she expanded Books and Blintzes to include all forms of art, and is devoted to the inclusion of voices from across the Jewish world. Rabbi Miller was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2011 and is a Board Certified Chaplain.