Christmas Deadline Management: Preparing For a Calm and Productive 2024

Christmas deadline management

Christmas deadline management is a term that raises all of our cortisol levels. ‘Tis the season to be jolly-stressed as you ramp up your deadlines to get things finished before the end of the year. Yes, business owners the world over are limbering up for the annual Christmas sprint – a hard run uphill battling winter sniffles and burnout. This is where Christmas deadline management becomes crucial.

And then? Everyone’s out-of-offices come on and a period of eerie calm descends – let’s call it ‘Lullmas’. If you can stay match-fit during the run-up to Christmas with effective Christmas deadline management, then this quieter period between Christmas and New Year is a great time to come up for a bit of air and plan for a more efficient and satisfying 2024.

But how do you stay sane meeting those seasonal deadlines, then go on to make the most of the quiet-time rewards? It all starts with mastering Christmas deadline management.

Managing Christmas Deadlines Like a Boss

Like a treadmill set too fast, the pace of your deadlines can be overwhelming. It’s essential to apply good Christmas deadline management techniques. In the rush to clear the decks for the new year, it’s easy to throw more and more at your to-do list. But remember: you are in control.

Instead of straining to complete every task, try setting milestones you can achieve. Think about what actually needs to happen before the break. What has a finite cut-off point? What can be set in motion and planned, so it’s ready to action in the new year? Proper Christmas deadline management involves setting more realistic milestones, giving you a better chance of meeting them and feeling good about being on schedule, rather than behind.

managing christmas deadlines
Whether you like to use post-note mindmaps or brainstorm with colleagues, setting milestones begins with organising your priorities.

Take Some Business Owner ‘Me’ Time

You’ve set and reached your milestones. You’ve left ongoing project work in a good place for January. You look around you and the office is empty. It’s time for you to take some leave too. This is the reward for effective Christmas deadline management.

But as a business owner, you know that spending some ‘me’ time on the business before you take time off, will make coming back to work that much easier.

Take advantage of the lull to do some of the things you don’t usually have time for. These are the things that are important, but not urgent, that just don’t get the air time they deserve in your day-to-day.

Writing tasks down is a good exercise, but it can get pretty overwhelming, pretty fast. Ask yourself, do I have to do every single task myself?

Tasks for you. Tasks for someone else. Tasks for the bin. As you know, there simply isn’t enough time to do everything. But when you’re crystal clear on your tasks, and who’s doing them, you are going to be more efficient and productive. So get them in shape.

Try using the Eisenhower Matrix ℅ Smartsheet (see below) to establish what’s urgent, not urgent, important and not important. Follow the process to determine which tasks you concentrate on yourself, which you delegate and which you delete. Once you know what you need to do and what you can get someone else to do (and what doesn’t need doing at all), life becomes easier.

Eisenhower Productivity Matrix Template
The Eisenhower Matrix template helps prioritise and visualise tasks, and can be shared with your VA to highlight essential and urgent activities.

Gift Yourself a Virtual Assistant (VA)

Now you have that list of clearly defined tasks to delegate, you need a professional ally to help you move forwards. This is where a VA becomes a vital part of your Christmas deadline management strategy.

A VA will work across a variety of tasks to support you in your day-to-day at work. Here’s our top 5 – the sort of things that a VA can make light work of for you straight away:

  • Setting up standard ops procedures
  • Inbox cleansing and ongoing email management
  • Managing your schedule and tasks
  • Implementing and maintaining a CRM
  • Creating a social media plan and writing your posts.

With the right person in place, you’ll soon find that the pressure is off and you’re free to focus on the things that matter most. And that is the best Christmas gift for any business owner.

With that in mind, and a plan in place for a calmer new year, isn’t it time to take some actual time off? Now, go baste a turkey, drink a large Baileys, or have some banter with Santa – you’ve earned it.