How to Keep Your Sanity During the Holiday Rush

If you’re hoping to make it to the new year without having a nervous breakdown — revenue targets, frenzied shoppers, fulfilling orders by Christmas, holiday celebrations, year-end bonuses — then let us give you some helpful tips.

There are several things you can do to lower your stress and maybe even enjoy the holiday with family and friends. It’s all about being smart with your time and letting technology work for you.

Here are six tips for your and your business, to help you feel like Santa Clause instead of the Grinch.

1. Make team sharing software work for you.

You’ve probably heard friends and fellow business owners talk about remote-working tools that keep employees on the same page.

Slack, for example, features chat functions for you and the team to communicate, whether or not you’re in the office. It also offers file sharing, project organisation capabilities and complete integration so you can keep track of things wherever you are.

If you don’t have the time or budget to install new software and train staff up in the run-up to Christmas, then even calling on the old reliables like Skype and Whatsapp can help you stay connected with your team when it matters most.

Time is a limited resource, even more so during the holiday season, and efficiency tools can help you make the best use of the limited hours you’ve got.

2. Schedule your marketing efforts.

During the holiday season, you have to be smart about your time. Put aside some hours to dedicate to marketing. Then write several blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates in one sitting.

You can schedule when you want the content to go live for the remainder of the year with tools such as Hootsuite. Then check in once a day and respond directly to any comments sent to your account from other users.

3. Review your numbers daily.

Concrete numbers can guide you on what you need to do to get through the holiday season. Square merchants have access to daily sales reports that tell you how sales are doing even when you’re not in the shop. The data is readily available in your Square Dashboard, where you can track sales by the hour, day, week, month or year.

This allows you to keep tabs on inventory levels so you don’t run out of best-sellers during the gifting season.

4. Forecast the additional business you’ll be getting during the holiday boom.

You save a lot of stress if you come into the holiday season prepared. Use Square Analytics to review historical data and identify your busiest times from the year prior. Then, use that knowledge to predict busy days this year and set holiday hours and staffing to adjust for increased traffic.

Careful planning and forecasting go a long way toward keeping you calm despite the chaos ahead.

5. Set firm holiday business hours and communicate them to customers.

Before you resolve to open early and close late during the holiday rush, look back at past years’ performance over the holidays using Square Analytics. Think hard about whether you’ll have enough sales between 9pm and midnight to justify the cost of staying open those extra hours — like paying more staffers and increased utility costs.

Customers, even the most stressed-out kind, will respect your opening hour choices – aka. not take to social media to slam your brand - as long as you communicate holiday hours clearly and well in advance. Post them on your website, social media profiles and, if you use a business answer machine or voicemail, change it to indicate what your festive hours are.

If you have an e-commerce business, be sure it includes realistic estimations about shipping times, many brands post a notice on their homepage informing customers to be aware of a slightly longer processing period and customers will appreciate the forewarning. Along with this, provide an email address for customer or client emergencies.

6. Schedule daytime breaks for yourself and your employees.

This may sound counterproductive, but scheduling short breaks just might benefit end-of-year business. Seasonal affective disorder is the real deal, and employees who go the whole day without seeing natural light can suffer from decreased productivity, sluggishness, stress and low morale - no one likes being boxed up inside.

Make a schedule that includes one hour for each employee to take a break and relax, go out for lunch or do their own Christmas shopping. It’s a feasible (and festive) solution that results in a huge morale boost.

And if you feel like you’re just too crazed to hit pause, at least plan to take a small break away from your workplace. Take a call from the park across the street or have a one-on-one catch-up with your manager in the local coffee shop. Switching up the scene helps lower mental stress, relieves the physical stress of sitting in one place all day and might even make you more creative.