If you’ve never heard of the “Elf on the Shelf” Christmas tradition, I–despite my jealousy–can get you up to speed:  A little “Scout Elf” (a doll) arrives at your home on December 1st to keep an eye on your child and it flies back to the North Pole at night to report their behavior to Santa. Every morning until Christmas, the elf is in a different spot, usually doing something silly and holding a new note to your child. It keeps holiday excitement building and puts a smile on your child’s face every morning.

How does it all happen? The “Magic of Christmas” (AKA tired parents), of course. Those of you who have ever had to plan a fake elf’s messy adventures while simultaneously working, parenting, and fitting in all the Christmas activities you can handle every day already know…it’s not great. (And Heaven forbid you FORGET to move the elf after your child falls asleep.)

This year is different for me. I’m actually enjoying the company of our elf, Cocoa. The reason behind my joy is proper planning…an Excel spreadsheet to be more specific. I took 45 minutes at the end of November and made a list with important event reminders, plans for Cocoa, links to pictures, and wording for each note. This morning we found him having a slumber party with other dolls–all using my socks as sleeping bags. Tomorrow, he’s making a snowman out of toilet paper rolls. I even have an alarm set for 9:30 PM that reminds me to move him every night. It’s easy-peezy mac and cheesy as my four-year-old would say. Not only have I saved myself a lot of time every night; I’ve also made more room in my brain for everything else I do throughout the day. Cocoa is officially out of my head for the holidays!

What does this have to do with running a business? Ask yourself, “What other elves are living rent-free in my head, and how can I regain that valuable real estate in 2023?” Here are a few suggestions:

  • Schedule regular meetings with clients, customers, sub-contractors or others you engage with often. Agree to a regular schedule and put recurring meetings on the calendar. This will help you keep a consistent dialogue and will reduce the amount of back-and-forth over schedule conflicts.
  • Develop your training objectives. If you offer continued learning opportunities for your sales team, plan the topics now. Likewise, plan what you’ll focus on in your continued education too. If you like Excel, use that to keep track and add details each quarter for the coming months.
  • Create an event schedule. Decide which tradeshows, events, and seminars you’ll attend in 2023, who will go, and what needs to be done prior to and after each. Planning this now will reduce costly, last-minute decisions throughout the year.
  • Plan your social media posts. Make an excel spreadsheet for the year, noting important events and holidays, then craft your social media posts around that. Schedule a day when you’ll take a few hours to write out your posts for the month ahead. This will save a significant amount of time each day and it will give you time to plan for special posts that need some extra attention.

You’ll see that proper planning is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself this holiday season, and your inner elf will thank you all year long.