Riding the Christmas Slowdown

Unless you work in the retail sector, the chances are your business will experience a natural slowdown over the Christmas period. A combination of office festivities, annual leave, the inevitable round of office lurgies and a general reluctance to progress new projects means that things tend to grind to a halt for at least a couple of weeks.

But, knowing that January will see a rush of activity and refocus, what can you do to maximise a little breathing space in December? Rather than sinking into a Christmas slowdown with office chocolates, make use of your time with these forward-planning and productivity tips – mince pie in hand optional.

Look back…

Why not review your business objectives and assess progress towards them to date? This will help you to flag up some priorities to focus on in the new year, and hopefully, allow you to celebrate some successes too. You could do the same review activity on your own performance, and flag up some areas for development in the year ahead. For example, are there projects you’d like to be involved in? Skills you’d like to master? What big challenge would you be ready to voluntarily take on and overcome in 2019? Think big!

Plan forward…

Now’s the time to set a date for your next strategy kick-off meeting, whilst diary bookings are quiet and you can get in there quick. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to organise group meetings with overly crammed appointment schedules when things start to get busy; don’t make the mistake of leaving it until the last minute. If necessary, go and see PAs and speak to them directly; a personal touch – and a thank you – is always welcomed by vital diary gatekeepers!

Speak to a facilitator

Many business leaders review their objectives progress and strategy to date and decide that there is room for improvement when it comes to approaching their strategic planning process. Use this time to contact a facilitator and book a strategy workshop in the new year when you return feeling reinvigorated and ready to launch into 2019! Knowing that you have this date will also help to focus your mind when you return after the holidays.

Identify and test some strategic tools

Most business people know that there are fantastic tools available that can help them to run their businesses better and to manage their strategic processes more efficiently. But it is hard to pause your existing process in order to research – and get to grips with – potentially better alternatives. Use this quieter period to try out a tool such as QuickScore and follow a tutorial to see what it could offer you. This small investment in time could result in a significant ROI if you later adopt a more efficient tool that streamlines your processes and betters your strategic delivery. It will also help to build your own skillsets.

Learn something new

Continuous learning and development are expected of more junior staff, but somehow, the more senior we get in our careers, the harder it is to step back and take time out to learn and develop. So book a quiet half day and sign up for an online course in a new topic – whether that’s a creative thinking course, a bullet journalling tutorial, a strategic theory module or another means of expanding your know-how and stimulating fresh ideas.

Be inspired

Warren Buffet’s financial planning strategies, Sun Tzu’s military expertise or Sofie Lindblom’s digital entrepreneurship might inspire you. Take some time to listen to their story. If you can get out of the office for a brisk walk whilst listening to a podcast, then all the better – exercising outdoors is re-energising and will help to wake up your brain for fresh ideas and new ways of thinking!

Make a new contact

Take advantage of the festive social season and get out there for some business networking. Most sessions at this time of year will have a huge emphasis on fun and be ideal for people who usually find such events hard work! Listen to some industry presentations, meet some new people, take home some business cards and arrange a coffee or two for the new year with people who may provide interesting links to explore in the future. You never know where these conversations may take you.

If all else fails…

Don’t just sit around and wait for the holidays to start. Clean out your cupboards and empty your desk of all the junk, papers, notes and general ‘stuff’ that tends to accumulate over the year. Delete emails and start with an empty inbox. Scan documents to your server and confidentially waste paper copies where possible. Clean your desk. Bullet your to-do list, ready for 2019. Buy a lovely pot plant so that you will return to something fresh and inspiring after the holidays. Place a 2019 calendar visible for when you come back in and a photo of something that motivates you. The idea here is to have your desk looking like a fresh, clean and ready space to hit the ground running when you return to work.

Now with your work done, go and enjoy your holidays and make the most of your downtime.

Merry Christmas from all of the team at Intrafocus!