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December. While it’s an almost-overwhelmingly busy time thanks to the Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve rushes, the final days of 2018 also offer us a valuable opportunity to look back over the past 12 months and cull important lessons to carry forward into a new year.
Successful bosses, managers, and workers tend to use the normal time reserved for resolution planning to not only set clear goals, but to take active steps to start working on them immediately rather than waiting for an “official” January 1 kickoff. If you’re interested in upping your end-of-year productivity and priming yourself for 2019, give these four tried-and-true tactics a whirl.
1. Clean out inboxes and contact lists.
If you work in a fast-paced environment requiring plenty of communication, “Inbox Zero” may feel like a mythical concept to you. However, successful professionals make regular attempts to sift through the hundreds of emails piling up on their servers, getting rid of unnecessary messages, filing away those that don’t need immediate attention, and responding to time-sensitive items before they fall into the chasm that is a bottomless inbox.
On a similar note, sifting through your contact lists and removing numbers and email addresses that are outdated will save you abundant time when the January “just checking in” messages start flooding in. The stretch of time right before the holiday break is ideally situated for these activities, allowing you to begin the new year unencumbered by redundant content.
2. Thoroughly review last year’s budget and come up with ways to improve next year.
When it comes to career-related (and, honestly, life-related) stressors, budgeting tops many lists. At the end of the year, when you’re reviewing your financial choices both at work for fiscal wrap-ups and in your personal life for the upcoming tax season (or somewhere in-between, courtesy of freelance gigs), it can be helpful to sort your budgetary numbers and documents into clearly-delineated spreadsheets, which will let you track your progress over the course of the year and put together a solid plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Forbes recommends creating a financial worksheet for every month of 2019 with a proposed budget and planned expenditures.
“In the event [that you] plan to spend less on expenses vs. last year, do not reduce the overall budget by the difference. Simply increase the savings line item in the budget, or add another line item for exercise, professional development or travel- all of which are activities that foster personal growth,” Forbes advises.
3. Make a “game plan” for the upcoming year and set appointments with yourself to check in.
While your budget represents one aspect of your life that benefits from end-of-year planning, that concept can extend far beyond monetary concerns. Successful professionals schedule time in December specifically designated for future planning, giving them the opportunity to set goals, to put plans for advancement down in writing, and to consider small, attainable steps that can be taken to move them in the right direction.
Inc. suggests setting aside an hour every day in December to get your plans in order (you’ve got a few of them left!), then setting appointments with yourself in January to go over your progress and adjust future steps as needed.
4. Allow yourself to unplug and enjoy time off during the holidays.
Now, it’s time to discuss a key element of end-of-year work success with which many high achievers particularly struggle: taking actual time off to unwind during the holiday season.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 95% of workers believe that taking PTO results in better work performance, but only 45% of Americans actually take all of the vacation time available to them. If you want to set yourself up for a productive 2019, be sure to step away from your work emails and genuinely enjoy some holiday time with your friends, family, and your Netflix account.