Does your business take a nosedive in the summer months?

It can be tricky balancing the demands of clients and family, keeping on top of things, and still making money, not to mention dealing with clients who dump everything on you and disappear for 2 weeks.

Here are some tips for keeping your business running smoothly so you can take a break.

  • Manage Stop/Starts
    Over the summer months you might find you have a few long weekends here and there, plus a day trip or an event or two, all on top of your main holiday. Not to mention having to wait for a client to get back to you because they are on the beach this week. This can lead to a stop/start schedule that really slows you down.
    When you do finally get back to work it can be hard to remember what you need to do and find all the right files to pick up where you left off. A good way to manage this is to use the project management tool Asana. I have all my projects set up with their own task list ordered by date, so I can see where I’m at with each of them.
  • Scrap To Do Lists and Create Action Lists
    When a to do list is full of statements like Book Holiday, Book car service, your brain has to stop and decide what is the next action required.
    When a to do list – or task list – tells you what the precise next action is, eg Go to Travel Agent, Call Garage, your brain doesn’t have to stop and make a decision. This makes life a whole lot easier and Asana is great at keeping track of every project and every task.
    Often, it’s not the task that slows you down, it’s all the mental effort leading up to it. So if you can eliminate all the decisions such as precisely what needs to be done, who will do it (even if it’s you!) and where to find the tools, files and phone numbers you need then the task is completed faster.
  • Set expectations
    Be realistic about what you can fit into the time you have to work this summer, then communicate this to everyone who needs to know. Make sure you leave time to tie up any loose ends before you go away and don’t try to cram in client work at the last minute. If a client insists a piece of work absolutely must be done before you go away, stop and think if this is really true. Usually, it can wait.
    You don’t want to be frantically working and packing your suitcase at midnight on the day before your holiday!
    Winding down over a period of days is much better for you and stops the likelihood of you getting ill when you switch off suddenly. The same applies to coming back. Try to organise things so that you get back into things gradually instead of switching from off to full speed overnight.
  • Get your emails to respond for you
    Don’t lose those enquiries that come in while you’re away. Here are some ways that email automation can do the work for you:
    • If you have an enquiry form on your website, set an automated email reply for any enquiries that you may receive while you’re away. How to do this will depend on the software you use ‘behind’ the enquiry form. If the enquiry drops into your email inbox as a standard email then a normal out of office email will take care of this for you. If it goes to your email marketing platform then you’ll need to set up an automated email that’s triggered when someone fills in your web form.
    • Can you do more with you our out-of-office email? Instead of a simple message explaining that you’re away and the date you’ll be back, you could also point the reader towards useful information such as your FAQs page so they can sort out simple problems themselves. Or an especially popular blog post. Or you could set up a booking service such as Calendly so they can book an appointment with you when you are back.
    • If you’re using Gsuite you can set up automated out of office messages specific to the person who has emailed you. To do this, create a template then automate Gsuite so that when it receives an email from a specific person, the template email is sent automatically. Here’s how to set that up –
    • If you have a mailing list, why not schedule some emails for the time you are away to keep your leads warm for when you get back?
  • Automatically organise your emails
    If the thought of opening your inbox after two weeks away fills you with dread, you can set up folders for each of your clients or projects, then use rules so that your email software automatically files emails from those clients into the correct folders. You will still need to go through all the less important emails eventually, but this will collate the ones you need to action first when you get back. This works in both Outlook and Gsuite.
  • Schedule your social media posts
    Obviously, you need to be cautious about over-scheduling on social media, especially with the news changing as fast as it currently does. But you don’t want to vanish for a couple of weeks either. So, load a social media scheduling tool such as Buffer with some evergreen, non-controversial posts just to keep yourself on people’s radar while you’re away. If these posts point them towards subscribing to your mailing list, you could even grow your list while you are sunning yourself. Depending on the platform you use, you could set up your blog to post automatically to social media for you, too.
  • Switch off and collate notifications
    Most notifications will go to your phone or your email inbox unless you set them up differently. Here are some ideas:
    • Switch off all of your smart phone notifications so you only look at those apps when you choose to instead of whenever they go ping.
    • You can set up automations so that the information in emails is collated somewhere more manageable than your inbox. For example, you could use Zapier, an app that connects 5,000+ other apps, to add emails with a specific term in the subject line to a row in an Excel spreadsheet.
    • Messages coming in from multiple social media platforms? You can collate them all in one place with the messaging app Franz 
  • Don’t stop networking
    Can you carry on networking when you’re not in the room? Well, up to a point! Networking is more than just going to events after all, the real magic is in the follow-up. So you can go through the guest list of events you missed and get in touch to discuss what you missed. It’s easy to find out who attended Drive meetings in the discussions in our LinkedIn Group so give that a try and build some great connections.
  • Keep your pre-holiday feeling all year!
    When you’re preparing to go on holiday, you tie up all the loose ends, you update everyone, delegate everything and nothing is left outstanding.
    If you used this principle ALL THE TIME in your business, you’d always have a relaxed pre-holiday feeling.
    As part of your pre-holiday tidy up you’ll no doubt carry out a project review for everything that’s going on. You’ll note down what the next step is for each project/client so why not send this information to each of your clients? Upon your return they’ll know what the next steps are, what the deadlines are and with whom the action rests.
    This saves a whole world of catch up when you get back.
  • Get help! 

If you’d like help with any productivity tips or anything mentioned in this post get in touch with Helen Lindop and check out lots of free resources at Speedy Digital