Preparing for the Silly Season: don’t become a Christmas casualty

Have you noticed what seems to happen when the clock strikes 12.01am on the first day

of December, or even earlier? There’s an automatic and immediate switch to wind-down, holiday or party mode, where productivity all but grinds to a halt and a cruise mentality sets in.

As a result, the following happens:

  • We put fresh proposals or the introduction or implementation of anything new on the back-burner until the New Year – and often well beyond.

  • We rush to tie up loose ends and complete what is over-due, madly trying to fulfil the New Year’s resolutions we made 11 months ago. I recently saw a billboard which asked Is Christmas a holiday or a deadline? – this says it all.

  • We give ourselves licence to spend whatever we like.

  • And, perhaps more positively, we suddenly set aside rifts, issues and arguments, with everyone all of sudden becoming nice and with nothing a hassle or bother for this one month of the year. But why is it not like this every day of the year?

Why don’t we make December about life or business as usual?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy the season and make this an annual time to reflect, appreciate, review, assess, take stock, appreciate and celebrate, but have we considered and put in place throughout the year what is needed to support us financially and operationally during this time? Particularly if the intention is to wind-down, tidy-up and reduce working time or business operating hours.

If we do choose to do this, we also need to:

  • Ask ourselves if our clients are aware of ​​and prepared for this change.

  • Make sure our key and essential considerations – our usual living costs, other bills and loan commitments; our willingness to go to work or attend to client work as promised (amongst other obligations) – does not mysteriously disappear for a month or two, and so on.

My experience – whether with clients or life in general – is the aftermath of the Christmas wind-down mentality and or the decision to work less (and subsequent drop in productivity, efficiencies and output) has a far reaching ill-effect on people and their businesses. It impacts the health and wellbeing of both, along with our relationships, which then creates a knock-on effect, impacting families, staff, clients and the like.

What’s more, when the usual flow of a business is interrupted or disturbed, this might not only effect the productivity and quality of the product or service offered by the business, but also cash flow, sales and ultimately profits.

There can also be an interruption in usual payment cycles and the receipt of outstanding accounts and invoices, with payments stretched over the months of January and February – with businesses sometimes not receiving payments until March.

So if you plan on working say 11 months of the year, the key is to know that 11 months’ of wages, salaries or business net income will be needed to cover and support 12 months’ worth of living costs, bills, debt commitments and other expenses.

You’ll also need to consider that payments due to you may not be paid on time.

If you have taken care of and invested in yourself and your business well in advance of the holiday period by putting all the supports you need in place you won’t succumb to needless struggle, pressure or worry.

In other words, you won’t become a Christmas aftermath casualty.

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