Get Ahead At Work...Even During The Holidays!

There are a number of steps you can take to maximize your time at work while still leaving plenty of time for eggnog and family. Here are five suggestions for making the most of your efforts:

1. Project the first quarter based on history and current projects’ trajectory.

Spend just a few minutes a day (or a solid afternoon) reviewing company information, competitors’ trending data and your respective industry’s future capacity. If you have a solid relationship with your boss, you may wish to see if (s)he would find anything you generate of interest. Keep in mind, projections are just that: educated guesses. However, taking a moment to visualize possibilities puts you in a strong frame of mind to act on what occurs.

2. Go through your files and purge the inessential.

Admittedly, this is not thrilling work. Blast through the detritus (digital and otherwise) that is clogging your workflow. Be brutally honest here. Ditch the junk; keep the treasure. If you really have a difficult time pitching something, create three boxes: Keep, Pitch and Possible. You may find a piece of dormant business while you clear your decks.

3. Prioritize the “Keep” pile.

Once you’ve narrowed down the actionable business, put it in a tickler file or other type of system that will remind you it needs doing (e.g. Evernote). The key is to sift and label as you go while it’s fresh in your mind. That way, when the “ping” comes up, you’ll have all the actionable information right in front of you (e.g. call John about the contract).

4. Read.

During the course of 2015, you probably had at least four books per month that you wanted to read for work or pleasure. Add to this any industry-related reading and you probably could stock a small library with the stuff you would benefit from knowing. Mark off at least an hour a day to catch up on reading that will help you remain competitive as the new year rolls in. Keep in mind that “reading” can also mean audiobooks (iTunes etc.) that you can listen to during a commute, on the train or on the treadmill.

5. Network.

Go through your Rolodex and find someone you would like to grow with, mentor or learn from in 2016. It could be a superior, it could be a peer. Perhaps it’s someone within your company, perhaps it’s someone you met at a conference.

Reach out to at least three people and send off a handwritten snail mail piece of correspondence that says a few key things: Where you met or your common connection, Why you are reaching out (“I admire your knowledge of Tasty Wheats”), What you bring to the relationship (“My graduate thesis was about the derivation of the Tasty Wheats from cellulose fibers from urban gardens”), An offer to meet or collaborate in 2016.  You’ll find that with very little effort, you can zip by your coasting colleagues who will be essentially moving in reverse in comparison to you.

Keep it simple; follow through and enjoy the holidays. 

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