I’m sure like any business owner, I find the holidays a real clash of the mind. On the one hand I love switching off, taking (and needing) a well-earned break, spending quality time with my boys. On the other hand, I find myself feeling guilty that I am neglecting the business and trying with all my might not to have a quick scroll through my inbox.
As a parent, these holiday’s come around quite often so I have devised a way round it. Short, sharp effective hits of planning or tackling of admin that mean I can relax and enjoy the break while feeling like an effective business owner too. Funnily enough, undistracted by the day to day, I find the holidays is often the only time I can truly think holistically with many exciting plans and ideas hatched.
Here’s my top 10 holiday (planning & admin) hits:
Blog inspiration probably hits you all the time, but it’s rare that you have the opportunity to think further than the title. Holidays present the ideal time to really think them through, both in terms of the structure and the value they can add to your target audience. Just pack a notebook when you go to the beach/park/long car journey and take advantage of a quiet ten minutes.
2. Office sort
In-tray bulging? Filing gone a bit pot? But some time aside in your holidays to get organised. It can be a really therapeutic process and can really boost your productivity when you return to your desk after the break. Refresh your stationery supplies and order a load of files, dividers and pockets to work through your ‘do-it-later’ pile.
3. Competitor research
This is such a vital part of running a business but so often gets neglected for the intensity of running the day-to-day. With a little bit of time on your side, plan a visit, make an order or simply have a nosey around your competitor’s social media. Make a quick note of your likes, dislikes and anything you think could present an opportunity or threat. You may not be able to act on things immediately, but at least you’ve taken note.
4. Book in coffee
Another quick one that can be done while the kids are engrossed in a game of football or watching a movie. Grab your phone, open your address book and make a list of clients, friends and suppliers that you need to meet with. Networking and keeping in touch is vital for solid business relationships but it’s often frightening how quickly time goes by. If you have another ten minutes, throw out a couple of emails, texts or calls and get some dates in the diary!
5. Event listings
How often are you scrolling through Twitter or LinkedIn and finding out about interesting seminars or networking events the day before or, worse, the day AFTER the event? Spend 15 minutes on Eventbrite and see what’s happening over the next few months. Shortlist the ones of most value and block the time in your diary now – you’re far more likely to attend if workload is planned around it enough in advance.
6. Pin down reviews
If you’ve had some positive feedback or a glowing testimonial, they can work so much harder for you when posted on your website, added to Google or pushed out through social media. Don’t let them sit in your inbox or in thank-you cards – reach out to your customers and ask them if they will cut and paste into Google – those positive ratings will make a significant impact for future prospects searching for your services. At the same time, update the testimonial section of your website and schedule a couple of posts on Hootsuite – promise it will be an hour well spent.
7. Review your analytics
Run off a couple of reports from your Facebook, Twitter or Google Analytics accounts. All the information you need is waiting right there – what customers are interested in, what converts sales, what they enjoy reading. Make a note so you can plan more of the same. Two really easy things to note are best performing posts (do more of those) and what time people seem to engage (plan more for that time). It just means you’re more informed and more strategic in your posting.
8. Cleanse your database
Not the most exciting or quickest task for the holidays, but let’s face it, it’s likely the only time you will have the time! Look through your database and make a note of any changes that either need investigating or updating. Add any new contacts from business cards you have collected. If you have a CRM system, look at your tagging and see if any updates are required. If you can’t find the time or the inclination, resolve just to organise a brief and outsource it!
9. Tidy up your inbox
This is another good one to do while sat in the airport gate or queuing for ice-cream. Little and often is the key. Organise by email size or sender for a quick way to make a significant impact – read our earlier blog for more tips.
10. And stop
While it doesn’t feel easy and can often come with feelings of guilt, it is the most important task of the holidays…take some time off. Clear and relax your mind, indulge in snuggles with kids and lunchtime wine and remind yourself why you do what you do…for work/life balance.