Your business motivation probably tends to wane at this time of the year. Not only do you have the typical hustle and bustle of holiday preparation and activities for your own family and personal life, but you also have to juggle the hectic schedules of your employees and other important end of the year business tasks.
But if you’re organized, determined, and focused, you can end this year strong and set yourself up for a smooth transition into the new year. Use this checklist to help break down your end-of-the-year tasks into small, manageable pieces to ensure that you stay productive without getting too overwhelmed.
Stay Motivated During the Holiday Season
Although you are probably stressed with the demands of your family and your business that probably increase during the holiday season, there are some things you can do to help manage that stress. You want to make sure you balance both your work and personal lives without compromising one or the other completely. Here are some tips:
1. Plan and Prioritize
If you want to make the most out of your time, you have to plan and prioritize. Multitasking doesn’t work. Why? Because you are never able to commit adequate attention to each task. When you multitask, you work on one thing while worrying about another.
Not only does this increase stress by dividing your attention among multiple different stressors simultaneously, but it also increases the likelihood that you will make a mistake if you aren’t fully focused on one thing at a time.
When you multitask, you are likely to get distracted. Details go unnoticed, information is documented incorrectly, processes and systems get interrupted…. Mistakes can be costly in both time and money. Plan for the present to avoid future issues.
Make checklists, set goals, and work on one thing at a time. Prioritizing your list can help make sure you tackle it in a timely manner without missing deadlines or creating unnecessary delays. Prioritizing can also help you avoid over-committing. By identifying areas that you might not have to worry about right now, you can minimize your stress.
2. Work Smarter, Not Harder
You’ve heard this before, but when we get busy and overwhelmed, it’s easy to forget. Are there any tasks on your list that you can delegate? Of course, be mindful and respectful of your employees’ time, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
You never know. Someone might have an opening in his or her schedule, a slow day, an eye on a new position or promotion. You won’t know unless you ask, and if you’re in a position to do so, think about offering a nice incentive!
You can also take advantage of holiday parties or events you attend. If there are more invitations than you have time for, think about which ones have the best networking opportunities. You can knock two birds out with one stone that way!
3. Take Care of Yourself
I know, it’s easier said than done. But it’s important. You can’t neglect self-care. It will come back to bite you. Drink your water. Eat. Exercise. Meditate. Stretch. Most importantly, take time off!
You’re busy. You have a lot to do. But you will do it so much better if you are rested and healthy. Take a day off. An afternoon. An hour! Whatever it is, just make sure you make time for yourself.
And don’t take work home. You will burn out. In order to manage your stress, you have to take time away from work to decompress and reset. Your business, your staff, your friends, your family will thank you.
Finally, you don’t have to feel guilty about taking time to celebrate or get into the holiday spirit. It can boost morale around the office and improve everyone’s productivity. You don’t have to sacrifice holiday cheer for work. They aren’t mutually exclusive!
Speaking of holiday cheer, as we enter into the 12 days leading up to Christmas, use this checklist to not only count down to the big day but also to help you stay motivated to finish the year strong.
The 1st Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Double Check Payroll
If you have employees, you know you need to get W-2s and 1099s in order. Identifying any issues and making necessary corrections early will save you time and the hassle of fixing mistakes.
If you need to locate an SSN to issue a 1099 during tax season or if you need to verify names and SSNs on W-2 wage reports to successfully process your annual wage report, you can use an SSN and name match tool to make sure that the information you have matches and is correct.
The 2nd Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Verify Vendor Information
Has your own contact information ever changed? The same is probably true for any vendors you work with. Therefore, you want to make sure you have updated contact information for vendors you plan to work with in the next year.
Verify that phone numbers, email addresses, and point of contact are still the same to save you time going forward. Get rid of any incorrect or outdated information. You should also purge the information of any vendor you are no longer working with or no longer wish to.
If you’ve already been approached by vendors you might want to work with next year, you can conduct an EIN search to verify that each potential vendor relationship is legitimate. This will save you time and headache in the long run.
The 3rd Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Append Contact Lists
You should verify your customer and client contact lists at least every six months. Customer data changes more frequently than you might realize or be able to keep up with, so it’s a good idea to clean your entire contact lists regularly so that you don’t waste time and money reaching out to invalid channels.
Having good, clean, accurate data improves processes such as marketing, communication, and user experience. The process literally takes minutes. Using batch append, you can upload your lists and add, update, or verify contact information in your database records. It’s quick, easy, and invaluable.
The 4th Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Do-Not-Call (DNC) List Check
Part of verifying customer data is making sure you know which numbers to call and which to not call. Consumers can register their phone numbers to a Do-Not-Call list which protects them from receiving spammy telemarketing calls.
This means that if there are customer phone numbers in your database that are listed on this registry, you could be liable to thousands of dollars in fines for failing to honor that opt-out request. Therefore, it is important that you implement one or both of these processes:
First, to identify numbers that are registered on the DNC list and aren’t safe to call, you can integrate a DNC list API into your website that categorizes submitted phone numbers accordingly.
However, if phone numbers are added to the DNC list after being submitted to your database, you’ll need to verify phone numbers on your list to find out which ones are no longer safe to call. This way you stay TCPA compliant through next year.
The 5th Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Evaluate File Names
It’s never too late to get organized. A well-oiled machine is more efficient than a rusty one. A simple organizing tip that might get overlooked is evaluating file-naming conventions.
If you can develop a system that consistently keeps data, files, and information organized, it will be easier for different teams and departments within your business or organization to work together, collaborate, and share. This translates into quicker processes, less duplicated information, and minimal errors.
The 6th Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Backup Computer
The importance of this end-of-the-year task is a no-brainer. If you don’t backup your computer, you can lose important data and information if any tragedy were to befall your device.
I’m sure you’re familiar with Murphy’s Law: if anything can go wrong, it will. When is your computer most likely to crash? Right before you back it up….
Losing important files and data not only costs you time and money to recover, but it also compromises company data security. Some good backup habits to get into include securing accounting documents, client information, valuable emails and providing your employees with external hard drives or access to a cloud-based storage system.
It is your responsibility as a business owner to keep company and customer data private and secure. Backing up important files is a good start.
The 7th Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Backup Contacts
You also want to backup your contacts. There are a few reasons why.
First is the issue of data privacy and security (which we just lectured you about above). Second is time. You don’t want to spend—or waste—time reestablishing your contact list. Think of how much time it takes to gather this data versus the amount of time it takes to back it up….
Third is for the sake of your reputation. How embarrassing would it be to have to reach back out to the same customers, clients, and leads asking for their information…again. That would make you look unorganized and unprofessional.
Finally, you don’t want to lose out on future marketing opportunities. If you lose your contact data, you miss out on conversations that could convert to sales. And it’s easier to sell to existing customers than to brand new ones. So you really don’t want to start from scratch.
The 8th Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Update Software
Updating software is another important step in protecting company data. Computer software quickly becomes outdated, so running the most up-to-date software helps avoid bugs and flaws that might leave you vulnerable to a breach, leak, or attack.
It also speeds up your processes. The more up-to-date your software is, the faster your data will process, therefore improving your efficiency.
The 9th Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Audit Website
Your website can and should always be improved. First, you want to double check all links on the site to make sure they are active and appropriately routed. Second, test your contact form and make sure it is functional. Third, make sure your contact information is up-to-date. Are the phone number, email, and address you have listed still valid and relevant?
That’s the easy part. The hard part is simplifying the web design. There are many ways you can make your website more user-friendly:
First, you can use validation error messages to prevent invalid data from entering into your database and to speed up the process for users. The less guesswork users have to do, the less friction there is to complete the action on your website.
Second, you can use APIs to autofill user information and to integrate third party data into your website without your users having to leave the page. This increases the time spent on your website and the likelihood that users will complete forms, purchases, subscriptions, etc. rather than abandoning the process.
Third, you might consider adding CAPTCHAs to your forms to combat spambots. This not only prevents invalid data from entering your system, but it also protects your customers from bots that phish for access to sensitive information.
Finally, if you are using a CRM, you want to make sure you aren’t using more technology than you really need. Analyze your data and make strategic decisions based on the wants and needs of your users. If additional customizations will improve the user experience but slow down your systems, there’s a good chance that the users won’t even notice the speed difference. So prioritize ease, functionality, and bugs.
The 10th Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Automate Systems
Data automation saves you time by taking some tasks off of your plate, but it also saves time by avoiding manual data entry errors.
Data automation involves machine learning (ML) tools and artificial intelligence (AI) bots performing those tedious, mundane tasks that don’t require any particular decision making. You can automate the uploading, handling, and processing of data with APIs.
APIs can be used to update, manipulate, and verify large amounts of data regularly. You can set them up to verify data at the point of entry to keep bad data out of your system. You can use them to periodically clean your database (the end of the year is a good time to do this), and you can integrate custom APIs to meet your specific data needs.
Make a plan to increase data automation in your business for the coming year. It will allow you and your team to spend your time making important business decisions rather than wasting it on data entry; let the bots do that!
The 11th Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Set Business Goals
The end of the year is a good time to reflect. Did you reach the goals you set for yourself this year? What can you improve in the coming year? Use financial statements to see where you can spend more wisely in the coming year or to identify opportunities to increase profits.
Gather customer feedback to find out whether or not you are meeting their wants, needs, and expectations. Heeding customer feedback is also a great way to build trust and show them that you listen to and care about them.
Finally, survey your team. Find out what processes didn’t go so smoothly this year and where you can improve efficiency. You also want to show your team that you listen to and care about them. Asking for their input and taking it to heart is a good way to do that.
The 12th Day of Christmas Business Motivation Tip: Celebrate Business Accomplishments
Reflect on the past year to set goals for yourself in the areas that need improvement, but also reflect to celebrate what went well. You worked hard and deserve the opportunity to reward yourself.
Taking time to reflect on your accomplishments allows you to identify processes that are working and going well. These things you want to keep doing.
Finally, a little celebration and pat on the back will boost morale and motivate you to keep going.
We know it won’t be easy to avoid stress in the coming weeks. It will be hard to avoid the temptation of working long hours, multitasking, turning down activities, and neglecting your personal life.
But if you prepare ahead of time, you are more likely to succeed. Be mindful of upcoming tasks and non-negotiable responsibilities so that you can plan in a way that allows you to focus your attention strategically and be more efficient.
Fortunately, you aren’t alone. There are a number of tools you can use to help make sure your systems are in order as you enter into the new year. Just remember to take it one step at a time, take care of yourself, and let yourself celebrate. You’ve earned it!