|Dec 17, 2008 2:16 am
||Organization Tuesday: JIngly Bell, Not Jangly Nerves: Organizing Your Business During the Holidays
|| As I post this, there are five days left until Hanukkah, eight days
until Christmas, and just a bit over two weeks left in the year.
As we discussed last
week, whether your personal and business
economy reflect the dire nightly newscasts or business has you jumping
so high and so fast that you can't believe you're stopping to
read this post, some time next week, you WILL stop. You'll
take a break. You'll have some good food, good days and
hopefully won't be stuck in an airport, a blizzard or on the phone with
a client who doesn't care that it's a national holiday or that your hot
chocolate is getting cold..
With the federal holidays landing on Thursdays this year, it's likely
that you'll be taking two long weekends off (or three, if like me,
you'll be celebrating Hanukkah). All that time out of the
office (assuming you're not staying home, and in your home office) can
be fun, but at the back of your mind, you may be feeling some
Before you call on Donner and Blitzen to
help you circumnavigate the globe in your sled, here are some tips to
keep the anxiety at bay so you can enjoy your holidays.
If you are headed out of town, make sure you have:
A copy of your December and January calendar
It never fails--the phone may be growing cobwebs from disuse all month
long, but the minute you're out the door and on your way, prospective
clients (and at-long-last returning ones) who've made New Year's
resolutions (to get organized, to get fit, to get coached out of their
old ways, to get spiffy new photos taken, to revamp their web
sites...to do whatever it is that you can do for them) are ringing
yours off the hook. You want to book them (oy BOY, do you
want to book them), but you need to take care not to double-book or end
up with a conflict. (Remember that dentist appointment you
scheduled, figuring the first week of January would be slow?
You don't want to forget it until the last minute, risking a
cancellation fee just so you can meet with your client!)
The instructions and codes to call your home/office voicemail
Are you laughing? Don't.
Most of us check our cell phones on our cells and our
home/office voicemail from our office phones when we get back to the
many of us have all of the codes programmed into our oh-so-smart cell
phones such that we haven't had to dial them directly in years, if
ever. If you lost your cell phone while playing in the snow,
would you remember how to call your office voicemail?
You'll stress less
if you prepare for all eventualities.
Copies of your email contacts and most important documents and templates
You never know when the ideal client will decide to call with a request
that you respond by
close-of-business on Friday. Sure, you probably want to make the
holidays a family-only long weekend, but wouldn't you prefer the option
of taking advantage of a really good business opportunity?
traveling without your laptop, be sure to pack your flash drive
so you can pop into Kinko's or a public library if Grandma's computer
was built in the days when AOL still sent discs in the mail.
traveling with your laptop, safely leave behind a many-GB flash
drive or external hard drive. Have a complete
backup (or even two) of your hard drive so that if there's an
emergency, you can have a trusted friend (the one feeding your
pets and watering your plants) email you the vital file.
Keeping a backup at home is also a life-preserver if
something happens to your computer while you're traveling.
traveling with or without a laptop, email the most vital
documents to a secure, web-accessible email account like Gmail.
If you've got a Gmail account, it won't matter if you don't
have access to your own computer and software, as Google Docs lets
up whatever attached Word document, spreadsheet or presentation you've
sent yourself--without you having to spend a penny on software.
A cheat sheet (in code, if necessary) of your non-memorized
If you've gotten in the habit
of letting your browser remember your usernames and passwords,
you may not have typed anything but a high-security bank or brokerage
password in quite a while. Perhaps you don't even bother to log out of
some of your often-used low-security sites. (Has it been so long since
you logged out of Ryze or Twitter that you don't even remember your
Indeed, it's the low-priority sites for which you're least likely to
recall your login data. Sure, it's no big deal to have your password
emailed to you, but when you're on the road, wouldn't you like to make
things easy on yourself?
Also, have the login and
FTP information for your web site's control panel if
there's any chance you'll need to make an update or correction while
traveling. Even if your web designer is willing to make a quick fix
over the holidays, you can't be certain she or he will have your login
I'm a huge fan of the Internet
Password Organizer, which I reviewed
on my blog, but I'd advise you to travel with either your
the actual passwords in writing, but not both. That's a
disaster waiting to happen.
A list of your clients' phone numbers
It never fails; whenever I go away, I get a garbled voicemail
client, begging for a return call, with no return phone number. In the
age of Caller ID, many people assume it isn't necessary to leave a
phone number, and not everyone realizes that a crystal clear connection
on their end of the line doesn't mean their message can be understood.
If you get a call saying "This is MisGr9%^flgr sssssssss.
I really need #%^*FS sssssssssss, so please call me back at
Next, consider taking the following steps to ensure a smooth return,
both for you and your clients.
Don't be the chump who has set an autoresponder to say
"Thanks for writing, but I'm traveling until January 1st" and then
deactivate group email subscriptions. You do not
anger your colleagues, clients and friends with dozens of these in
every group of which you're a part.
- Set a
vacation voicemail message and/or your email autoresponder--IF you know how to use
Similarly, if you work from a home office, you don't need to let
strangers and potential burglars know you'll be seven states away for
the next two weeks. Either leave your usual message, if you
intend to check messages often, or leave a friendly holiday message
that lets clients know you'll be "taking some personal time with your
family this holiday week", and you'll be responding to all messages
on...and then state the day you absolutely, positively will honor your
word and return calls.
If you're setting a "Happy Kwanzaa" voicemail message or that
otherwise tells people you'll be away and won't return to the office
until January 1st, make sure the first thing you do upon your return is
change your message back to your standard. Otherwise, you could get a
message in mid-January from a formerly-loyal client saying "Um, I don't
know if you're back
yet or if you missed some flights, 'cos your message says you'll be
back two weeks ago…and I really needed to know if you'd be available
this week to do some work for me, but maybe I should just call..."
Be perceived as organized.
- Set a reminder
on in your Outlook or task software or post a note on your calendar for
the morning of your
return to revise your
voicemail and deactivate your autoresponder.
Similarly, make sure your autoresponder ends when it's supposed to.
Missing one checkbox can mean you're sending out "FaLaLaLaLa"
messages well into January. Send yourself a quick test email when you
get back, just to make sure everything is working properly.
Clear your desk of clutter. File away your reference files and put any
papers reflecting tasks to do upon your return in your tickler file, or
pile them in order of when they need to be accomplished (with the
deadline date in the upper corner or on a sticky note). Make a list of
your top three priorities
for your returning day and put it square in the middle of your desk. On
the day you return, focus on those tasks for a few hours before being
tempted by email.
- Prepare your desk for your return.
If you aren't traveling, then I hope to see you back here next Tuesday.
Julie Bestry, Certified Professional Organizer®
Best Results Organizing
"Don't apologize. Organize!"
Visit http://www.juliebestry.com to save time and money, reduce stress and increase your productivity
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