It’s counter-intuitive: This time of year we should be taking time to enjoy life, but for many entrepreneurs, it’s the busiest season of the year. And that’s not just for those who work in retail. We’re busy with holiday party obligations, buying client gifts, volunteering, sending cards…the list goes on and on.
I’m in favor of this being the best time of year, and taking a moment to reflect on the past 12 months. To that end, below are my tips for managing the madness.
How to Keep Your Sanity During the Holidays
1. Say No
Sure, you feel the need to give your time right now, but you don’t have to.
We have this sense of guilt when we say no , but it’s actually freeing. We assume the world will fall apart if we don’t make cookies for our kid’s class, take on a new project and attend every holiday event.
But you know what? The world keeps on turning.
2. Start Early
If you’re just now thinking about how to market during the holidays, you’re adding undue stress to your workload. Be like 31% of businesses, who start their holiday marketing strategy 2-3 months in advance.
You can bet they’re less stressed in executing their plans since everything was laid out months ago.
3. Make Client Gift Shopping Simple
It’s wonderful if you have time to individually curate gifts for each of your clients . But if you don’t have that kind of time, buy in bulk.
There are hundreds of sites that sell gift baskets and boxes of goodies that let you bulk buy and ship directly to your clients. You can customize by choosing different gifts from the same site. But you’ll drastically cut down on your shopping time if you can make a single purchase and send gifts to everyone on your list
4. Focus on What Really Needs to Get Done
I keep procrastinating on an ebook I want to write before the end of the year. I find a million other things I “should” do instead. But come January, I’ll be disappointed that I procrastinated on this business-building tool.
Look at your to-do list and eliminate everything that’s not a necessity.
5. Clean and Organize
I like to start a new year with an organized office. You should too. Carve out an hour each week to deal with that teetering pile of papers on your desk, as well as to organize your computer files.
In the new year, you’ll be more streamlined and able to find what you need quickly.
6. Be Selective About Events
Here you can exercise your new ability to say no. Holiday parties can be fun, but they can also be stressful, especially when they take you away from the office or home.
Decide which events you really need to be present at, as well as which you really don’t want to attend – and RSVP accordingly.
7. Schedule Your Marketing
If you’re the person at your company that writes the blog posts and social media updates, be smart about your time.
When you have an hour or more to dedicate to marketing, maximize your time by writing several posts and scheduling them for the remainder of the year. Use a tool like Hootsuite  to schedule your social media updates.
It’s easy enough to set up tweets and updates to your content, then check in once a day and respond directly to any comments sent to your account from other users.
8. Stop and Breathe
Like I said, now is the ideal time to reflect on the past year. Instead of constantly going-going-going – slow down and enjoy the moment.
Don’t let the holidays stress you out. Instead, use this time to appreciate everything you’ve accomplished as a small business owner.
I’ll raise my glass of hot cocoa to that!
Happy Santa  Photo via Shutterstock