It’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s. If you’re not taking some planned time off, chances are you’re spending time in the office. Maybe you’re on desk duty or maybe you’re just feeling guilty about that steadily growing stack of paper on your desk.
Well, guess what? You can make this normally dead week into a major period of productivity. Here’s how:
- Start a thank you list
- Get in touch
- Volunteer to help someone
- Review your social media
- Conduct a performance review
Now, put away the Angry Birds, shut down Facebook, turn off your email, and let’s see what we can accomplish in your business during this dead week.
- Start a thank you list. Make a list of everyone you can think of who has helped you in any way during the past year. Maybe you’ve already said a verbal thank you or sent an email. Be different this time—send a handwritten note, mailed with a real postage stamp. Maybe even get a supply of Happy New Year cards and write your notes on those. The end result? You’ll make at least two people feel good—yourself and the person who gets your note. You can never over-thank someone for a favor.
- Get in touch. Yes, this means picking up the phone, not sending emails. Touch base with colleagues you haven’t seen, former clients, vendors, and others in your network. If you think there might be an unresolved issue with any of these, acknowledge it, do what you can to make amends, and start the year with a clean slate. You can even include family and friends in this effort—the niece whose birthday you forgot, the high school chum you haven’t talked to in months. You’ll feel lighter when this project is complete.
- Volunteer to help someone. Perhaps your colleague down the hall has a showing or an open house scheduled but her granddaughter is dancing in The Nutcracker at the very same time. Take over for her. She’ll never forget your kindness, believe me. We all have those times when we are torn between family and work responsibilities. The stress isn’t good for your health. Doing a favor for someone else is.
- Review your social media. How you use social media has a big impact on your personal brand. Google your own name. Find out what’s being said about you online. Maybe it’s nothing, but if it’s something that needs your attention, do it. Delete or cancel accounts you’re not using. Make a list of Tweets, Facebook posts, and blog topics you can start using as soon that ball drops on New Year’s Eve. You might even write a few ahead, so you don’t let this important part of your strategy drop in the post-holiday rush.
- Conduct a performance review—of yourself! What were your goals at the beginning of this year? How many of them did your reach? What derailed you or got in your way? What do you need to recreate for the coming year? The purpose of this is not to beat yourself up or feel bad for what didn’t get done. Congratulate yourself for what you did accomplish. Celebrate your successes, large and small. Then use what you’ve learned to design a plan for 2015.
Yes, this does bring us to the age-old topic of goal setting. According to research conducted by Harvard University and others, fewer than 10% of business people have goals at all and only 3% write them down. So if you write down even one or two, you are way ahead of the game.
In order to be effective, goals must be SMART. This is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-sensitive. Some examples:
- Specific: increase my sales by 10% over 2014. Not specific: Improve my listing strategy.
- Measurable: If your goal is Specific, it will also be measurable. You’ll know if you’re on track for a 10% sales increase.
- Attainable: Exercise 30 minutes a day, three days a week. Not attainable: Run the Boston Marathon (unless, of course, you are already a marathon runner).
- Realistic: This means you feel both willing and able to work on the goal. In your mind, you may want to be president of your firm. But are you willing to do what it takes to get there? Do you even know the steps you’ll have to take?
- Timely: This simply means you can attach a “by when” to your goal. Will it take you three months, five years, or somewhere in between? Open-ended goals are seldom achieved.
There you have it. You took what could have been a wasted week of fooling around and kicking back and turned it into a road map for your future. Good for you. And Happy New Year!