I suppose I had to do it at some point – it’s not that I wanted to! In fact, I’m really opposed to using the ‘C’ word unless completely justified but as usual, I can feel the stress building up and it’s becoming more and more inevitable.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like Christmas…
I have no particular issue with twinkling lights, festive music, excitable children and good food and drink (erm, yes please). It’s just the fuss, the stressful build up, the expectations and every year it hits me in the face like a big, glittery brick.
I just never seem to have the time – and it’s not just personal to Christmas. I’m the same with every holiday and just like not being able to relax and enjoy a trip abroad until I’m sat on the plane, I just can’t seem to relax until the eleventh hour on Christmas Eve when I’ve wrapped the last present and someone says Kahlua.
When it comes to business, however, I need to know that everything will be covered while I’m away. I can’t sleep if I think I’ve missed something.
Now, every business is different; Christmas may be your busiest time of year, or you may have already started to see everyone drifting off into ‘holiday mode’ – either way, most businesses should be able to take away from my ‘Holiday Meltdown’ plan of action!
Writing your cards:
I’ve chosen this one first as I think it’s most important and anyone who values good customer service will agree with me; don’t leave people hanging over the holidays.
Get back to as many people as you can before you go away – whether it be email, telephone or social media enquiries, make sure you get back to everyone via some platform before you take off for the holidays. If it’s an enquiry that you simply can’t solve or answer until the holidays are through, it shows good will to at least get back letting the enquirer know when you will be available or able to get back to them with more information.
It’s also good form, if you use your email frequently, to write an ‘out of office’ email before you go. You can include your leaving and returning dates within the message so that if you really don’t want to look at your emails over the holiday (and I take my Santa hat off to you!) at least your clients know the score – do not disturb!
Decking the halls:
“It’s Chrrrrrrrriiiiiiisssstmaaaaaaasss!” Yeah okay, we know. But, particularly if you’re online, you have to shout about it…maybe even more so than Noddy. Theme your content with Christmas whether you like it or not! That means deck out your website and social media with festive images/logos/stories/promotions and of course any seasonal special offers or give-aways. Remember, it’s peak season for online retail so get your competitive thinking caps on.
Making a list:
Now any well organised individual (or professional procrastinator) will know the importance of lists! There’s no doubt about it that in the run-up to your holidays, you’re going to have to cram in some extra work or overtime to tie up loose ends or give you a head start in the New Year and there’s nothing like the relief of getting down in list form what’s circling through your head and realising that it wasn’t that bad after all.
Try not to make a hundred lists that you can’t possibly get through – make one for your work life and one for your personal life and make your goals achievable.
Remember, not everyone can be as productive as Mr ‘Visit 7 billion homes in one night’ so don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.
Clearing the drive:
We have already seen some pretty heavy storms so far this Winter in Britain and albeit a patch on the snow we had in 2012 (thus far) you can never be sure what we’re going to get and to what extremity. So be prepared! Make sure that your business is mobile ready. If extreme weather means you’re contacts are cut, you can’t make it to the office or worse still, you have to completely shut up shop then make sure you have some form of disaster recovery.
Get in touch with colleagues via mobile as well as email to ensure they know your movements. If you have to work from home, have your log-ins and passwords handy in a safe, secure place. Backing up your work or current projects via a cloud platform is also a great way to enable remote working.
When it comes to customers, social media is a great real-time way to keep people informed that, in spite of bad weather you are ‘open as usual’. Or even if you have to break bad news on a social media platform (if done professionally) people will appreciate being kept in the loop.
Filling the stockings:
Social media scheduling is great! No more will we hear about social media marketing experts getting up at 2am to send a tweet (true story!); we can schedule the perfect time and date to best target our audience. Facebook now has the ability to schedule updates, but if you have multiple profiles Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are two of the more popular used social media dashboards.
Now, I’m not a big fan of sprouts (bleh!) but I am a big fan of Sprout Social: having tried all three of these dashboards and I find the layout of Sprout Social much easier to digest than the other two.
So if you have lots of news over the holidays or just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, cram your social stockings full so you don’t have to worry about it on the day.
Trying to do everything will just leave you in a tizz, so off-load some of the hard work. A bit of Christmas cheer is always a good way to get colleague and employee spirits up and keep a relaxed atmosphere: happy people are productive people after all.
See, I don’t really hate Christmas! I just have to prepare myself in order to get through it without using a different ‘C’ word… and the way I see it, working a little bit harder just makes it all the sweeter when you can finally relax – even if it is just for one day.
So earn that first White Russian! And Merry Christmas everyone!