Is anyone else feeling like December has eaten the last week of November? We have our first Holiday band concert on November 30th and the holiday madness is already in full swing.
Let’s be honest, December is a stressful month for most people over the age of 18. But when you’re a business owner, you’ve got two sources of your stress. You’ve got all of the regular holiday activities, plus you are still trying to close out your year end goals. And if you haven’t locked in your plan for December, you’re a little behind the game. November is the new December, and like it or not, the holidays are already starting to take over!
So here’s my personal plan for how I manage planning Christmas for a family of 7, and close out the business year.
Keep my sanity the top priority- It’s not selfish, it’s strategic. If I go into the new year completely burnt out, we have a sluggish first quarter, and the first quarter sets the pace for the rest of the year. I HAVE to be at my best come January 1st. That means that I need to say no, simplify, and take some time off. I recommend scheduling your days off and then really truly take them off. You will need to have a finish line in mind so that you can manage the push, and not end up burnt out.
Stay out of the stores– If you love to shop, you’ll hate this one. But honestly, it is so much time and stress to go out and do Christmas shopping when everything can be delivered right to your door. All of my shopping was done by 2pm on Black Friday, all while sitting on my cozy bed and wearing my ugly Christmas sweater. I started out with my jingle bell santa slippers too, but the boys confiscated them.
Plan days for holiday activities- I don’t do well with dabbling. I’m at my best when I can really focus on a task at hand. So trying to mix in some holiday baking on a day that I also need to crank out a marketing plan for a client doesn’t work well for me. I’ve got several Saturdays this month dedicated to Christmas. We have a fun day, a service day, and a baking day. This helps me let myself and my family know that we are enjoying the Holidays, but it takes off the pressure for me to feel like I need to be Mrs. Clause at a moment’s notice.
Get your team involved in finishing the year end goal- Step one: Analyze the year end goal. What will it take to reach it? And be aware that it is probably not likely to roll in on its own. Mine sure won’t! It’s going to take strategy and implementation that comes from more than just me. Step 2: Determine what you need from each person on your team in order to hit your goals. Give out specific assignments, communicate with the team regularly, and monitor the progress. This is a great month to give an incentive and keep people focused on hitting that end goal.
Make all decisions based on what makes the most sense longterm- There’s something about this time of year that skews our judgement. I’ve watched families go into massive consumer debt that they would never do outside of December. I’ve watched businesses discount so deeply they destroy their profit margins. Or over sell to their client base and then come January, they just can’t pull numbers out of their current clients. Everyone purchased in December. As you are looking at your plan for December, make sure you take a step back and think, “Is this in the best interest of me, my family, my business in the long run?”
If I sound a little Scroogey in this blog, rest assured, I love Christmas. I’ve been jamming out to Frank Sinatra’s Holiday album for the past 2 weeks. I can’t wait to decorate sugar cookies and deliver them to people that wouldn’t otherwise have visitors. It’s all about balance! Sometimes when we do less, the things we do matter more.
Merry Christmas, and welcome to December! I hope this month is magical for you!