Life is full of seasons.The weather changes throughout the year, we grow and change as humans, relationships and opportunities come and go. Some of these seasons are busy and stressful, while others are more relaxing. Since we know that these seasons will continually change, we can prepare ourselves using specific strategies to try and make the transitions a little less challenging and leave time for more enjoyment and happiness.
For us, there are short bursts of chaos throughout the year, and then there is one long, very busy, very chaotic season that pretty much lasts from September through December 31st. Part of this is because we are a retail business, which is understandably impacted during the holiday season, and part of this is because we have a close-knit family and love to celebrate the many holidays with all of them, even if it means rearranging schedules and celebrating things multiple times. While everyone has different seasons that they experience, we have found that the same time-saving and productivity-increasing strategies we use in our business can usually be applied to any given situation, any person or group of people, and any type of season, whether it’s personal or business-related.
We love doing local events because it gives us a chance to meet and interact with our customers in person. However, because our online business also gets busier during this time of year, doing these events means we have to get a little bit creative with our scheduling and organization in order to meet all of our deadlines and be ready for all of our events.
Here are some time-saving and productivity-increasing strategies we use and apply during our busy seasons, both in our business and at home in our personal lives.
One way that we streamline our process at the shop is that when we get orders online, we simply make extras that go into our “stock” for upcoming events. This cuts down on design time and helps reduce the need to change out the material on the table as often. We also try to batch out our shipping and packaging, so that we are packaging all of the orders for a given time period at once, making one weekly post office run instead of two or three, etc. We try to use this “batching” strategy as often as we can in as many aspects of our life as possible, because it saves time and effort in so many ways.
2. Getting and Staying Organized
Over the years, we have tried to find organization systems to help us stay organized with our products, especially for when we are traveling to and from shows. Many options that we have tried have not worked in the long run because our products are simply too heavy or too big and the systems aren’t built to withstand the type of wear and tear we put them through. This year, however, we came across the Milwaukee Packout system. While this system was originally intended to be used for tools and equipment on construction jobs sites, we have found that their durability and portability actually work really well for our products and our needs.
These stacking and latching boxes are heavy-duty enough to hold our heavy and sharp metal objects, durable enough to withstand traveling and bouncing around down dirt roads, and portable enough to wheel to and from booth spaces and around venues with ease. We are slowly adding to our collection, and as we create product leading up to events, we are loving the ability to organize like items into their own “packout” box so that loading and unloading will be smooth and simple.
I also try to think ahead and do a bit of organizing at home when I know we are headed into a busy season, like fall shows or holiday time. As time goes on and “life” happens, our house inevitably gets cluttered up (please tell me I’m not the only one! ha!). I spend a few days going around and reorganizing things that have just been set on the counter or table and putting them in their rightful “spots” so that when schedules start to get hectic, we know where to find our necessities, and our clutter doesn’t become too overwhelming.
3. Adequate Preparation
Another way we try to simplify our lives during this busy time of year is by meal planning and meal prepping. This may seem like a small thing to focus on, but having so much going on often means early mornings and late nights either at the shop, running errands in town, meeting with clients, etc. This does not leave much time for making home-cooked meals, let alone making healthy choices, which can lead to too much money spent on fast (unhealthy) food. However, when there are already simple and ready-to-heat-up options at home, it helps take the temptation away and helps us make wiser choices, both for our health and our bank account.
4. Ask for Help
The last thing we have found to be absolutely necessary during this time of year is asking for help. It can be so easy to want to do everything ourselves, but we’ve learned from experience that this only leads to burnout and fatigue, and it can take a toll on our entire holiday season, both personally and in the business. We are so fortunate to have a loving and supportive village around us filled with people who want to see us succeed and are willing to lend a hand whenever we ask. We ask for help with babysitting, setup and teardown for our events, prepping our products, packing and shipping orders, running errands, the list goes on.
It took us awhile to learn that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, and it is still an area where we are learning and growing everyday.. It has humbled our hearts to see how much people around us actually want to help out in any way they can, and so we are learning to take them up on their offers and return the favors later down the line.
Do you have some holiday season survival tips and tricks? Do you find that extra planning and preparation helps you sail through the chaos a little more smoothly, or do you just wing it and do your best?