With the holiday season approaching I thought it might be useful today to go through 3 things you should do prior to your holiday to ensure you have a peaceful break:
1. Speak to a phone answering company about holiday cover for your phones
You could just divert your office phone to your mobile but that means that you have to make sure you have your phone with you at all times and keep checking to see if you've missed any calls. That's doesn't make for a relaxing break that gives you an opportunity to switch off.
It's much better for you and for your customers if your calls are answered professionally and a pre-planned response is given. That might mean that you agree to check your emails once a day to respond to any urgent telephone message or it might mean that customers are asked to email a support email address with their query, for response within 24 hours. Whatever you decide, you are able to enjoy your break without the constant worry of dealing with phone calls.
There are many call answering services available but if you want help to find one then get in touch and I can point you in the right direction.
2. Create a schedule now for everything that needs to be completed before your holiday
It's one thing to have a long To Do list of things that need completing before you break-up but it's another to know how you're actually going to fit them in!
Whether you use the task list in your email client, a project management tool such as Trello or Teamwork, or you simply want to print off a blank calendar for July/August (or the appropriate month leading up to your holiday), it's a good idea to schedule when you are going to do the things on your To Do list so you don't end up in a mass panic on the last afternoon.
Bear in mind that things often take longer than you imagine so when you're planning the time slots for each task, realistically think about what you have to do and how long you need, planning the tasks round your other commitments. If you're struggling to fit everything in you may need to prioritise and you might find Steven Covey's Urgent/Important matrix useful for this.
3. Automate and pre-schedule what you can
I love automation - the magic that makes things happen without anyone having to do anything - and this is a great time to get some of that set-up and working so you have less to worry about during your holiday.
Here's some ideas about what you might sensibly be able to automate in the next couple of weeks (although there'll probably be more that could be done in the longer term):
- Set-up 'Repeat Invoices' on Xero to ensure your invoices get sent out on time even though you're not working.
- Set-up an Out of Office / Automatic Reply on your email to inform people that you're on holiday and when they can expect a response from you.
- Pre-schedule your social media posts using a tool such as HootSuite.
- If people often request a piece of information such as a brochure, add a form to your website so they can do this and automatically receive a PDF download.
I'm sure you've heard the old adage, "fail to plan, plan to fail" so make sure that you don't fail to plan for a relaxing holiday!