As small business owners, time is your most valuable resource. You juggle so many responsibilities on a daily basis, which means every second truly counts. As the holiday season approaches, there is an even greater demand on your time. To successfully navigate the holiday season with your small business and sanity intact, try these five tips for time management.

Set Seasonal Priorities

You have an annual operational plan, but during this peak time, it’s important to design and set seasonal priorities. If your busy period is from November through January, earmark specific goals for those two months. If December is your most demanding time, come up with detailed deliverables for that one month. Having your plans outlined helps solidify them, and makes them more tangible.

An added bonus is that during this hectic time, you feel a greater sense of accomplishment by checking things off your priorities list. It’s a win-win. Ultimately these short-term goals help you focus on the tasks at hand and reinforce that the end is in sight. The holidays are a sprint and short term goals reinforce that mentality.

Stick to Your Routine

This recommendation may seem contrary, but keeping your routine as normal as possible aids your productivity and time management, especially during busy times. Wildly varying your routine can make you feel unsettled, which detracts from your focus. Anticipate some changes, like your seasonal priorities, schedule and account for said changes, but maintain as much normalcy in your work and personal regimen.

Automate What You Can

There are many resources available that can make your life easier on a daily basis. The holidays are a great time to implement them, if you haven’t already. Social media should be the first thing you automate for your small business. Social media is a critical component of marketing, but it takes time. Instead, use automation tools, like our social media marketing tool, which allows you to schedule posts in advance. You can sit down for less than two hours and schedule your entire month of social media.

Once your social media is squared away, concentrate on your email marketing. Do you have specific upcoming campaigns? Write them in bulk and schedule in advance. This upfront work will save precious time when you’re undoubtedly dealing with something more urgent during the holiday rush. You can check email marketing completely off your “to do” list before the holidays are in full swing!

Proactively Communicate with Customers

The holiday season breeds changes: extended hours, guaranteed delivery dates, and vacation time. To preempt any confusion, proactively communicate with your customers. Clearly outline if your hours of operation are different, when your business will be closed, and the last day to make purchases for guaranteed holiday delivery.

Communicate across various forums. It may seem heavy-handed to you, but your customers see so many advertisements per day, that a repetitive message will stick. Send an email, post to your social accounts, place a banner on your website, and hang signs in your store window. Customers will appreciate the notice, as it lets them appropriately prepare for the holidays. It also sets clear expectations, which reduces your business’s vulnerability for upset customers during the holiday frenzy.

Schedule Time to Enjoy the Holidays

The holidays are a time for all to celebrate, and small business owners are no exception! However, without conscious planning, the season can easily pass by without a minute of downtime. This is when actually scheduling time to celebrate is necessary. Block off days, hours, and any chunk of time where you’re off-duty and are only responsible for your personal life. Mark these hours as out of office or unavailable and let your employees and vendors know about these blackout dates well in advance.

If you have employees, consider integrating flextime over the holidays. This way, they can still manage their personal obligations outside of work, and be fully present when on duty. Everyone will welcome the flexibility, and your business will thrive because people are not distracted while at work.

With these five time management tips, your small business is sure to run smoothly during the holidays. Remember to embrace the season, with all its flair and festivities, and to make yourself a priority. You work hard as a small business owner, ensure you reap the rewards of your efforts!