It’s that time of year again.
Business is winding down (or picking up if you’re in retail), and you’re being slowly tortured by Christmas carols. Although, whether carols count as torture depend entirely on how much of a Grinch you are about Christmas. (Me? One more parumpapumpum and I won’t be held accountable for my actions!)
Regardless of how you feel about the festive season, there are several things you should organise to make it through to the end of the calendar year, especially if you’re in business. I’ve compiled a step-by-step “holidays survival guide” to make it that little bit easier.
Enjoy the holidays, stay safe, and have yourself a merry little Christmas…
Step 1: Make a checklist.
Make sure you’re ready for the holiday rush on all fronts. Starting with work first, what are you in charge of? The shopfront, the warehouse, the website? All three? Staff management? Does work wind down or ramp up at this time of the year for you?
Don’t forget that personal list, too. Family visits, Christmas presents, doctors appointments (before your health insurance limits reset) and other pressing errands that need to be completed before the end of the year.
Step 2: Who’s available?
Holiday leave is generally booked months in advance, so whoever is in charge of scheduling leave is likely well-aware of who is available, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check. There’s no point allocating work that needs time to complete to a staff member who starts annual leave tomorrow.
This is also important to find out personally. What’s your partners schedule looking like? Your family? Your friends?
Step 3: Be Productive.
This goes without saying on a day-to-day basis, but it’s extra important in the lead-up to Christmas. Prioritise tasks that a) can be completed before the holidays and b) need to be completed before the holidays. You want your proverbial plate to be clean over the break, so you can lick your actual Christmas lunch plate clean without any nagging feelings in the pit of your stomach.
I recommend the Ivy Lee Method; a tried and tested practice that I use on a day-to-day basis (most of the time, heh):
- At the end of each day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.
- Prioritise those six items in order of their true importance.
- When you tomorrow arrives, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
- Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
- Repeat this process every working day.
Step 4: Let everyone know your plans.
Have you advised your clients and customers when you’re packed up for the holidays? What about your parents? You can do so in a number of ways:
- Send out an email. For work, this can be a group notification to your clients/customers or as part of your monthly newsletter. If it’s to family, it would probably be nicer individually.
- Write a post on social media.
- Add a new message at the start of your IVR when someone calls your number, advising from what date you will be closed and when you’ll reopen.
Step 5: (If you can) shut up shop early.
If you can, close your shop or stop contact with clients earlier than you intend to finish work, be it a week, a day or simply a few hours. Use the quiet time to tackle some of those projects you’ve been putting aside. Maybe it’s something fun and creative you’ve been meaning to start developing, or maybe it’s something more practical like reviewing your monthly expenses.
Step 6: Redirect calls.
Once you’re shut, make sure your call queues and email inboxes are, too. Set ‘Out of Office’ auto-replies for not only your individual work email, but also any group mailboxes you may have (such as firstname.lastname@example.org).
Change any voicemails you have active to let people know when you’ll be available again. This is a good idea for business numbers, but you can also do it personally if you’re going away for the holidays.
Having these greetings in place means if anyone missed your initial notifications, you can still enjoy your Christmas BBQ in peace and check your messages once you’re back at work.
Step 7: Secret Santa!
Rule #1: Stick within budget. Don’t go too under or too far over. Nobody likes a cheapskate, but nobody likes a show-off, either.
Your best bet in this scenario is to stick with gift cards. Some people like gag gifts, some people are okay with socks. I know I’d be happy with chocolate, but there are people out there who aren’t (I know, I know, heathen).
Of course, if you know the person fairly well, you can risk it all and buy something they’ve been talking about. The beauty of Secret Santa is it’s (mostly) anonymous so if you do mess-up you can keep it to yourself!
Step 8: Don’t stress!
Easier said than done, trust me, I know. But it’s the time of the year to wind down and spend time with family and friends or those closest to you. Enjoy your break and have fun, or if you’re working all the way through, focus on the positives: it will all be over soon!
Do you have any other tips and tricks that work for you or your business? Let me know in the comments!
This was originally written as a potential blog post for MOVOX, but has since been broken down and adjusted for social media purposes instead. I have edited the original post for a more generalised audience.