When I worked in Corporate America, I often worked during the last two weeks of the year. At first, because I had to. Everyone else had more seniority and vacation time. Later in my career, I did it because I wanted to. The last two weeks of the year are so nice and quiet. Fewer meetings. Less email. I could catch up and cross off a few things on my “to-do” list.
So, if you’re looking at your schedule for December and unhappy about having to work while your colleagues are taking time off, let me share a few things you can do to prepare for the upcoming year. (In fact, you might want to bookmark this page and use it as an end-of-the-year checklist.
- Clean out your contacts. I’m not talking about unfriending or unfollowing people. This refers to contacts with outdated information and they haven’t stayed in touch. That Outlook entry is just taking up space. If you want, reach out and try to connect with those individuals via LinkedIn. Then you will always have their most current contact information.
- Update your social media accounts. Use the quiet time to unfriend, unfollow, unlike, etc. those accounts that don’t bring value. Also take a moment to update your bio and contact information. The more accurate and up-to-date your profiles are, the more people will want to engage with you.
- Get your planner ready for the New Year. While I have an electronic calendar in Outlook, I still like using a paper planner. There are many different styles available: Passion Planner, Plum Planner, Erin Condren, etc. Planning is an important activity that helps us achieve our goals. Find a system that works for you.
- Do a mini-HR audit. Pull a half dozen personnel files and make sure they look the way they’re supposed to. You can do the same with Form I-9. It’s better to have some sense of how your files look before an official audit. Need an audit checklist? The SHRM Knowledge Center can help you with that. Members are able to request information for free!
- Organize your reading. I don’t know about you, but I find that during the year, I add blogs to my Feedly and then discover the blog has been abandoned, etc. So, it’s good to clean out those electronic newsletters and blogs to make room for new ones. (Hopefully you’ll continue receiving HR Bartender!)
- Clean and dust your office. Another area that I’m guilty of neglecting. Books get dusty. Computer cords get tangled. Take a couple of hours to move stuff and really clean. You’ll be amazed how good it feels (and smells!)
- Delete electronic files that you no longer need. A word of caution here – please check with your legal counsel and/or IT before doing this. But my guess is the company’s 1986 dress code policy that is still sitting on your computer could be deleted. Organizing your electronic files will make you more productive.
- Schedule one-on-ones with employees. I know that much of what we’ve discussed so far is about organizing paper. Remember management by walking around (MBWA)? This is also a great time of year to get out of your office and talk with employees. Find out what’s going on.
- Schedule one-on-ones with managers. Speaking of meetings, use the last two weeks of the year to meet with the managers that are also working. Talk with them about how HR can help and provide value. Plan some strategies together. A big part of HR’s job is building relationships. Here’s a great opportunity.
- Take a class. Been trying to find a few hours for your own professional development? I know how hard it can be to squeeze time into an already busy schedule. Use the slow time to listen to an online seminar or take a MOOC (massive open online course).
While we’d all like to spend the last couple weeks of the year on a tropical paradise, it’s simply not always possible. So, if your plans involve work, use the time to your advantage. You can start the new year ready to make a huge impact.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby a little bit south of the North Pole