The calendar has a certain predictable rhythm to it as we approach the end of the year. There’s a bustle of activity as we move from November to December. Some of it is preparation and celebration of the holidays, sure. Some of it is a flurry of activity around wrapping up the goals we set nearly 12 months prior. It’s scurrying to close that last big sale so it posts this year. It’s completing that big project you want to attribute to this year’s budget instead of next year’s. It’s balancing all that with office holiday parties and year-end client meetings and vendor visits. It’s a bit of chaos.
And then the lull hits. That week between Christmas and New Year where the business world seems to remember all those vacation days not taken during the last 51 weeks. The office will be quiet. The phones won’t really ring. The email will be slow. You’ll either be one of the people tapping into your remaining PTO or you’ll be in the office enjoying the slower, quieter climate.
Whether you’re in the office that week, or your last few days of this year come prior to December 24, use some of your work time to close out your year on a high note.
You know that pile of papers you’ve “filed” in a pile in the corner of your desk because you were certainly going to need them again at some point? Now is the time to go through them and ditch most of them. Do the same with your email. If you haven’t read it or touched it for the last few months you probably don’t need it. Even if you can’t toss it (and honestly, a lot of it you can toss), you can file it.
Cleanse the To-Do List
Take time for an honest evaluation of the tasks on your plate. Are these things you need to be doing? Are they contributing to your goals? Are they benefiting the business? Can you delegate any of them? Are some of them just things you do out of habit vs necessity? Should you be doing something you’re not?
Sometimes we fall into habits of doing certain tasks over and over because we’ve always done them. That doesn’t mean they’re producing the results we need or there isn’t something more fruitful we could be doing instead – or that someone else can’t take on the task for us.
Just Do It
You know that thing you’ve been procrastinating? Yes, that’s the one. Now is the time to do it. You’re out of days to keep pushing it off. Don’t drag this thing into the new year. Pick up the phone and make that call you’ve been avoiding. Write the report you’ve delayed. Get blurry-eyed studying the analytics you need to review. Whatever it is, just do it.
At the start of the year you set goals. Now is the time to evaluate your progress. This isn’t just about whether or not you checked off the boxes on a list of tasks you gave yourself and your team. This is about whether or not the things you did achieved the results you wanted. It’s a chance to understand why the things you set about doing worked, and why they didn’t. Don’t just do this in a vacuum either. Your own reflection is good, but getting input from others is even better. Ask your team for input. Ask your boss. Ask your peers in leadership. Ask your mentor. Also, return the favor and provide feedback when asked.
Get Ready for What’s Next
Now is the time to look ahead to the new year armed with all that good info you gathered in your evaluation process. Use that data to help craft a new set of measurable goals and objectives. Adjust your timeline expectations based on the things you learned from this year. Build in a bit of buffer space to tackle the sort of projects you procrastinate. Reconfigure your physical spaces to help you be more productive in reaching this new set of goals. In other words, use the last weeks of December to get ready to hit the ground running in January.