How to keep on top of Christmas workload

The Christmas period is often painfully busy for many of us – regardless of whether you’re selling an item a month or five a day, there is always too much to do and not enough time.

We’ve scoured the brains of people who navigate these times with ease to find out what systems they use to keep on track over the busy period. These tips are helpful for any point in the year, but really jump into hyperdrive when time gets short. Having good systems in place can also be super helpful in the event you are out-of-action or need someone else to make something happen for you while you are away.

Use a checklist for your sales process

For every sale there are some standard things that you need to do, plan, or ask. Sometimes this is a straightforward process, but sometimes it’s not. Take away the guesswork and embarrassing mistakes by writing a checklist that you follow (or adapt) for each sale. Here’s a starter:

  • When an order arrives: send thank you note for purchase, confirm shipping and pricing and any special instructions
  • Prepare for shipping
  • When payment received: Update Felt sales page
  • Ship/post, update Felt sales page
  • Post feedback and update Felt sales page
  • One week later: send follow up thank you note and ask for feedback/quote/photo

Bulk buy postage/packaging

For items of uniform size, consider bulk purchases of envelopes/boxes/postage bags and have a look at different provider options. When you factor in your time, it can be cheaper to buy postage-paid options and be fully prepared than to run around getting a perfect option every time. If your items are lots of different sizes, consider what packaging you will need every time (packing paper, tape etc.) and be prepared with these in advance.

Create templates for your communication

We’re forever writing messages to different people that say essentially the same thing. Templates don’t need to be impersonal. Make a word document or a google doc and write out what you generally say, leave gaps or placeholders for adding specific information (I recommend highlighting these, so that you don’t forget to add the detail!). Consider printing a set of instructions/thank you note to add to purchases and topping it off with a handwritten extra sentence each time. It can be worth pre-printing sender address stickers, or having a stamp made. There are lots of printing options from buying label paper to use in your home printer, to getting things printed in bulk by a professional printer, to buying your own label printer.

Systemise your work space and storage

One of the best things you can do is get off the kitchen table and set up a dedicated work space where everything is exactly where it needs to be when you need it. Stop running around looking for the scissors, or your spare piece of whatever whatever! There are many ways to make work spaces that work. If you’re lucky you have a spare room to convert, but there are other creative ways of making use of limited space.

  • A set of drawers with stuff logically ordered inside: one with tools, one with packaging stuff, one with fiddly pieces and materials, and one with half-done jobs
  • Several spaces for different steps in the sales process: a making space, storage for completed items, a shelf for pre-packaged items ready to send, and a space with all of your packaging stuff on hand, ready to go
  • A repurposed ironing board that holds all of your tools then collapses flat and slides under your bed
  • Easily moveable trays that you put ON the kitchen table when you’re working on the projects it holds
  • Hang everything on the wall. Put up some shelves, or one of those ‘trace the outline’ tool walls. Or something entirely different

Plan personal touches in advance

I’ve previously written about how excellent it can be to add personal touches – read more here. There is a lot that can be planned in advance, and prepared so you can easily grab something and drop it in to your shipping. Plan ahead!

Preempt postage issues

Sometimes things get lost or damaged in the post. It just happens. So next time you’re at the Post Shop or interacting with your shipping provider, grab a couple of forms that you’ll need if something goes missing or is damaged. Having these ready to fill out in your work space can save a lot of time and hassle when you’re under the pump.

Block out your time out for specific tasks – get in the zone

Just like setting up a space so it’s ready to go, set up your time in the same way. 30 min working can be a lot more productive than three lots of 10 minutes. Arrange your time accordingly! For example, “Tonight I’m going to pre-wrap all of those items so I can just label and send when sold”. Be sure to include personal touches and put a post-it note or similar on top so you know what’s inside of each!

Prioritise at the start of the day

The act of prioritising is quite complex and uses a lot of brain energy. It actually gets harder to do later in the day, so try writing a list at the start of the day of all the things you need to do today, and number them in priority order. I like to put a couple items I’ve already done, so that I can cross them off immediately – nothing like the feeling of progress!

I’d love to hear any more tips/ideas/approaches you take in the comments below!

Featured image: Shane-Maree of Deep Green Inc uses shelves in her studio space.

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