This is a guest contribution from The Suitcase Entrepreneur, Natalie Sisson.
December is a special time of the year. It’s a time for reflection, for planning and for new beginnings.
It’s also an excellent time to do some serious (but fun) overhauls of your existing blog and business, in time for a fresh start in the New Year.
More importantly, it’s the perfect time to ensure that when you go to take your much deserved time off, all that hard work you’ve poured into your blog and online business during the year doesn’t just fall over in a heap.
I’m talking sexy systems and smart future planning here.
So let’s get started shall we?
Time for Xmas Trimmings
According to Urban Dictionary the term Xmas Trimmings refers to:
- anything used or serving to decorate or complete;
- an accompaniment or garnish to a main dish;
- pieces cut off in trimming, clipping, paring, or pruning.
So how does apply to our daily work?
- What projects are you going to complete before the year end
- What can you polish up, decorate and ‘giftwrap’ that already exists
- What are you currently doing that you can add to with a bonus, or accompaniment that will only make it even more enticing to your audience
- What can you stop doing, get rid of or clean up as you see out 2016?
- How can you put the finishing touches on the work you’ve done and will do?
I’m going to take you through each of these so that you have five steps and actions to work on this month, and once you’ve done them, you’ll feel like a rockstar and waltz into your holiday with zero to worry about….at least that’s the plan!
Step 1. Look at what projects you want or need to complete
Remember in January when you looked at your grand plan for the year ahead and felt all of it was possible? Yeah that plan….did you take a look at it recently? If so how much of it did you achieve?
If you’re like 99% of people, I’m guessing around 1/5th actually got accomplished, perhaps less.
Sad but true, we are not superhuman, which is why in our overzealous rose tinted glasses that we put on at New Year, we think this year will be different and we will achieve everything.
So, if you still have energy to burn, and a desire to more this month than you have in the entire year, I urge you to look at which of those projects you CAN actually tackle before year end?
- Which of those projects have you simply been procrastinating on?
- Which should have never made the list that you can scratch completely?
- Which would be quick wins that would actually make a big difference to your year end financials or sense of achievement?
Those are the projects you want to focus on, drop the rest. And I’d advise to pick just 1-2 to be honest. Why? Because in around two weeks your time will not be your own anymore. It will get overtaken by parties, friends, family, holiday distractions and planning.
So be realistic. Your time is limited and precious.
Then take action:
Take the chosen few projects, put them in your planning/ productivity tool of choice.
(I highly recommend Asana and that you read The Ultimate Guide on How to Use Asana to Become a Productivity and Task Management Genius.)
Map out a finish date, and work backwards from there with all the little tasks and things you have to do in order to make this project a reality.
Get an accountability partner, or bet a friend that you can do it. Make the stakes high so that you will absolutely commit to making it happen …or tell your kids you didn’t buy them any presents because you lost a bet – your call.
Take every other to do list item OFF your plate, and put it on someone else’s – preferably a virtual assistant or team member, or hire in a contractor to finish up those pesky yet important tasks that have been on your to-do list since September.
Step 2. Polish up, decorate and ‘giftwrap’ what already exists
This step is my personal favourite. I’ve recently released my new brand identity and relaunched my website. This exercise in itself was a brilliant exercise in seeing all the opportunities I’ve been missing on my blog and in my business.
As I went through all 110 pages on my site to see if, in fact, they were necessary, I got to go back through years worth of projects, products, courses, or initiatives I had launched and see which of those could be resurrected from the past.
I mean why reinvent the wheel, if you already had a pretty awesome vehicle that was working for you? You just need to bring out the latest model that’s slicker, faster and more efficient, right?
The same goes for all those blog posts you’re sitting on. Go to Google Analytics and look at the top 10 blog posts that bring you the most traffic. Spend a rainy (or sunny) afternoon at your favourite location, going through them and seeing:
- What you can update copy/ content wise
- What call to action you need to include
- Any other posts you can link to within your blog
- What opportunities are there to make some money – from your own offerings or those of affiliates
Then do an awesome round up post on your site on the top 10 blog posts you to read before the year end (I might steal my own idea!).
Now look at which of those blog posts, or videos, podcasts, workshops, webinars or speaking events you can repurpose into something fresh and valuable, but in a different format.
You can turn audio into written content, video into audio, video into a mini course, emails into a blog posts, webinars into a eBook….the list is endless!
And all of this existing ‘stuff’ you’re sitting on and have now polished up and gift wrapped, now makes for an awesome…..
Step 3. Add an enticing bonus or accompaniment for your tribe
Yep, bonus or accompaniment for your community and customers. If you ran a blog challenge and people loved it, now you get to follow up with a 10 Page eBook that covers off on the main points of that challenge that they can buy as a gift for themselves or for a friend for Xmas – handy!
Or you can release a pre holiday guide of awesome which is a series of your best bonuses (that you’ve just uncovered in your spring clean up) that has given you a whole new lease of life, and extra revenue, for the holidays and into 2017.
You should consider writing a blog post or recording a video or audio round up of your favourite:
- Books you’ve read in 2016
- Podcasts you listen to each week
- Best TEDx talks you’ve seen
- Coolest tools you’ve brought and love
- Best systems or software that’s changed your business
- Gift ideas for Xmas related to your business
- 3, 5, 10 or top 100 things you’ve learned this year
That’s a bonus that will just keep on giving!
Step 4. Stop. Evaluate. Action.
Given that the above three steps are all about taking action and gaining massive momentum heading into the holidays, you also need to consider what you are going to stop doing to fit this in.
What are you going to keep, get rid of or clean up too?
This is the perfect time of the year to go through your online and offline folders and sort out what the heck you’re hanging on to those files, videos, photos, images, unread books, half formed ideas or junk for?
Seriously all that stuff clogs up your space, and your mindspace too. I’m a minimalist at heart and pretty organized, but even I have amassed more ‘stuff’ then I need to.
As I drop using Dropbox, and transfer everything over to Google Drive this month, I’m happy to report I feel a lot lighter, freer and even more organized as I delete and trim the amount of things I have been storing, that has no business being in my business – if you get what I mean.
What are you going to systemize?
This is also a great time to look at all those files, documents and start creating sexy SOPS – that’s standard operating procedures. Which is a fancy way of saying putting together a document that states exactly how a task or process should be done, step by step.
The point of this, even if it sounds tedious is, that next time you go to format, edit and publish your blog post just the way you like to do it in 17 steps….you can delegate it completely to someone right away, over the holidays or in the New year, who following your SOP, should be able to do it just the way you like it.
Then imagine what it will feel like when you’ve created SOPs for the top 10 tasks that you do every single day in your business, and how much freedom you’ll have when you hand those over, safe in the knowledge that you have systems that work FOR you while you’re on holiday (and all the time).
If you need extra help staying on top of all the moving parts of your blog strategy, you might be interested in signing up for my new course Rock Your Systems.
Step 5. Put the finishing touches on your 2017 year
By now you should be reaching for the champagne or that massage voucher you’ve treated yourself to, as you will be in seriously great shape, or getting close to having a holiday ready business and blog.
And not just for this period, but forever more. Sure you’re going to have to work at it, and keep sorting, streamlining and trimming. But it will be worth it, and it will also get easier the more readily you do it.
Which leads me to putting the finishing touches on your 2017 plans. What better way to do this than to plan out your entire Editorial, Content and Marketing Calendar for the whole of, or at least the first three months of 2017?
You can use my FREE Editorial Calendar template here.
That may sound daunting, but since you’ve already done steps 1-4 you’re already ahead of the game, because through all your sorting, sifting, analysing and cleaning up, you should know now what your audience and customers really want.
So now you get to flesh it out into a full calendar so that you feel super organized and in control for the year ahead. Then you put that into Asana or Trello or a giant wall calendar, and you delegate.
Yes you sort out who the heck is going to work on making that happen while you’re off on holiday.
Turn to those SOPs you’ve created, to the hard work you’ve just done to finish all those projects, to overturn all the great resources and content you’re sitting on, and put someone to work who can give you all your Christmases at once, with a big fat red bow on it!
I share how to do this in my free video training Reclaim 10 Hours a Week and Double Your Revenue.
Natalie Sisson is an Amazon No #1 bestselling author of the Suitcase Entrepreneur, podcaster, speaker and adventurer who believes everybody has the right to choose freedom in business and adventure in life. She’s on a mission to ensure 1,000,000+ entrepreneurs do just that by 2020 over at the SuitcaseEntrepreneur.com. Natalie has just created a new course helping bloggers and entrepreneurs work smarter not harder – sign up for Rock Your Systems here.