An office party (Image: Thinkstock)

A LinkedIn friend recently explained there weren’t enough hours to get everything done during the holidays. He wondered if I had any ideas. Another article idea was born. Advisors are pulled in many directions during December. There’s work. Family commitments. Shopping. Entertaining. Let’s not forget the regular stuff that needs to get done. What to do?

Two Important Rules

Before getting into how do you juggle and keep all those balls in the air, let’s remember “The reason for the season.” In the U.S., Christmas has turned from the Dec. 25 holiday preceded by a shopping season starting after Thanksgiving into a shopping season starting before Halloween! The Hallmark Channel started its “Countdown to Christmas” movie schedule on Oct. 26!

Somehow, many people have lost sight of “The Reason for the Season.” Remember what makes Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Omisoka important on religious calendars.

Second, remember that great military maxim: “Focus on the mission.” Work gets done in the office. Shopping doesn’t. Home is for family and friend time, not doing office work, at least in December.

How to Keep Your December Organized

As a financial advisor, you are pulled in several directions. Let’s assume these are work, holiday shopping, general entertaining plus time with your spouse and family. Somehow, it all must come together.

Work

Some financial advisors are tempted to put their business into cruise control until 2020. This is a bad idea because clients need attention and appreciation during December.

  • Get holiday cards organized. If you send them, do it early. Personalize as much as possible. It shows clients they are appreciated.
  • Organize office and client gifts. Only Scrooge would say “I’m not giving my sales assistant anything this year.” They work as hard as you do. Some clients get gifts. It’s a logical reason to see them in person.
  • Come into the office expecting to work. There’s lots of year-end tasks like tax selling to discuss. There are certain investments you want in place by the start of the new year. You want your schedule of annual portfolio reviews in place before the new year starts.
  • Tell clients your schedule. You will be spending time with your family. (A good thing.) You will be here at least a couple of days between the holidays. (Another good thing.) Sometimes their accountants tell them stuff that needs to get done by year-end.
  • Do your 2020 business plan. If you don’t have a plan, what will you do on Jan. 2?
  • Find opportunities to see clients. Let them know they can come in if they are in the neighborhood. Get together with clients for lunch or after work-drinks. It strengthens bonds.

Holiday Shopping

  • Build a list. Who gets gifts? What did you get them last year? How will you get it to them? Work from a budget.
  • Shop year round. OK, this doesn’t help in December. This list becomes a file. As you hit sales during the year and see a great item, buy it, tag it and store it. It lessens the holiday stress.
  • Shop online. Yes, we should support local merchants. They have websites too. You can get a large amount of your shopping done on Amazon. They will even wrap for you. This keeps you out of the stores.
  • Save receipts. You duped a gift. Someone didn’t like a gift. The gift broke. receipts are handy.

 

General Entertaining

  • Accept party invitations. Lots of nonprofits and cultural organizations have holiday galas. You will run into people you can’t get close to 11 months of the year. They could be great clients. Get on their radar screen. Spend the money. Bring your spouse. Dress up.
  • Host a party. It’s probably easier than organizing a dinner. It’s cheaper than taking people out to repay dinner invitations. It’s a way to get to know clients better. You can bring prospects into your orbit. Almost everything you need can be bought prepared. Costco is great. Don’t serve the food you bought on the cardboard platter the store provided. Hire help, so you can spend time with your guests.
  • Take your spouse out. Get a babysitter. Have a dress-up dinner at a nice restaurant. Cruise down that street in your city that goes all out with decorations. Go to the holiday concert.

Family Time

  • Decoration. This should be done immediately after Thanksgiving.
  • Holiday music. Play lots of it. You will get tired, but it adds to the season. There are usually new tracks coming out every season.
  • Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Some local theater group is doing it. It’s quite festive. It’s got a happy ending. It’s a great holiday story. You consider Scrooge the ideal client, except he would probably push back on fees.
  • Entertain the family. Make an effort to invite them over for the holidays. Visit local family members on Christmas Day or during Hanukkah.
  • Everyone is a little kid at heart. Even if it’s just you and your significant other, have plenty of little gifts to open. They can be silly things.
  • Serve breakfast a home. You do it (assuming you’re not the primary cook). Give your spouse a break.
  • If you’re religious, attend services. It’s the “Reason for the season.” The family dresses up. It’s a mob scene. Everyone has a good time.

Does It All Work?

Everything fits in if you exercise time blocking. You must work from a schedule. Focus on the mission. It helps if you’ve done it before.