6 things to do while everyone is on seasonal break.

Our Marketing Director, Mags, is a bit of a one for getting organised.  In this post, she shares here tips for stealing a march on 2017 and using the time between Christmas and New Year for maximum benefit and impact. 

It’s Christmas break! Yay.  The days between Christmas and New Year are a strange time, leaving some of us delighted to be spending time with our families, eating copious leftovers and some of us delighted to be anywhere but!  In one way or another, work continues, arguably often at a slower pace (as everyone else is off) but with a keen understanding that, come January, things will take off again very quickly.

Extensive research* reveals that there is a correlation between your boss being away and the degree to which your inbox is swamped.  This, in turn, can correlate between how on top of your to-do list you feel, how many new tasks are coming in and how calm you feel about impending deadlines.  Worse, you know it’s going to be super-busy between January and Easter (because it always is) when everyone is focused on the new year, change and getting things done.

Over the years, I’ve learned this time between Christmas and New Year is really important to stealing a march on the months ahead.

Here are my 6 to do’s for the seasonal gap. 

1          Niggly to-do list leftovers

There are always things on your to-do list that get knocked down because while you give them credence and importance, they’re either nice to haves, non-essentials or not a major priority.  Start knocking these off your list.  Go back through them, collect them into one place and figure out if they really are still to do, or because you’ve left them so long they’ve become a bit obsolete (count this as a victory and tick them off!). Can you scratch some off the list, and focus on the ones that really do matter and just get them done and dusted?   The other important lesson for me in all this is that I often end up with lists in more than one place (notebook, post-its, some in the CRM, some in my inbox). How can I keep on top of a list when I have lists of lists?

2          Get ahead with the planning

Come the new year onslaught how are you going to cope?  Get busy with your diary to get ahead of that game.

  • Block out space for regular tasks in your schedule so they don’t get forgotten
  • Schedule in recurring and important meetings if they’re not already in place.
  • Go through project plans – are they up to date? If not, get on top of them, and anticipate where blocks of your time may be most in demand to complete tasks – get these in the diary (in pencil or its digital equivalent ‘tentative’– you can’t be inflexible but you can try and take control of your own workload)

3          Research

Your planning grid will probably reveal the need for some solutions or a bit of background reading – get ahead with this now.  Set up folders and bookmarks in your web browser so you can bookmark pages and easily refer back to them when you need them but start to think about where your knowledge gaps are now and find key resources that everyone will find useful in completing a project.   This is a good task to do with a cuppa (or even a cheeky middle of the day snifter) and some Christmas cake.

4          Turn off your email

This is the perfect time to get as much stuff done as you can without interruption.  It’s a great time of year to turn off your email and avoid being distracted by other things and just crack through some of the things you need to get done.

5          Keep an eye on the clock

If you’re the kind of person that’s early into the office and often gets involved in working until later to ‘just get this finished’, make a special point of not starting work until you are supposed to and finishing on time.  I promise this will feel a bit like a holiday in itself and no-one will even notice. It’s only a few days and you should only be working those hours anyway.  And if you’ve turned your email off too you’ll be amazed at what you get done in the ‘proper’ amount of time. It is interesting how much we think other people notice if we are at work late each day – some do but in the main, no-one cares about your hours – they care about your output and outcomes instead.

6            Clear down your inbox

Once you’ve done some solid graft, take some time to clear down your inbox.  This is one of my favourite things to do before I switch off for New Year if I have been working the time in between.   I love to delete or clear out as many emails as I can.  It is virtually impossible to have a completely clear inbox, but the feeling of being on top of things that you get from having a very lean inbox is very satisfying and I remain determined to keep it as clear as I can for as long as I can.  (end of the week, usually). It’s an important psychological switch for me. I bet there are things you’re hanging onto as they’re a reminder to do something – get them on your list instead- where they belong.

* It doesn’t matter where I’ve worked or at what level this is a truth universally acknowledged.