We are so close to the holiday break that I can pretty much taste the eggnog. For most professionals, end-of-the-year tasks have been in full swing for several weeks now. Many of us are powering through this holiday homestretch until the usual festivities mandate we celebrate with friends and family and/or get some much needed R&R. I, for one, have no shame in saying that I’m looking forward to some downtime for the holidays!
But, until then, businesses everywhere are BUSY:
the year’s budget, revenue and profits are in review…
tax documents are being prepped...
holiday sales and promotions are launching…
next year’s strategies are in deep development…
new editorial calendars are being formed…
performance reviews are getting scheduled...
technology vendor contracts are getting renewed…
annual holiday greetings are being sent…
the list goes on and it’s an exhaustive one.
But it’s a to-do list that many teams, of all shapes and sizes, tackle every single year. Good or bad, most of us are simply used to it. December to-do lists come naturally as a tool for tying up loose ends before venturing into the next year, full of new challenges and opportunities.
So, I realize everyone is insanely busy at the moment. And adding extra tasks to your to-dos does not sound like the most fun idea. But, as our team tackled our own checklist this month, I realized that there are some additional, fairly easy to-dos that some might not regularly think about during the holidays.
In the spirit of sharing, I am going to quickly run through some simple to-dos that could be helpful to your own team’s year-end checklist. Who knows - maybe your future selves will thank you later.
1. Backup Your Files In Multiple Places
I’m talking to you, smaller teams! Maybe you don’t have an IT department who has a handle on backing up all your important files on the daily. This is an important task that can protect you from the heartbreaking disaster of losing digital files to damage, theft, or unexpected events like floods! (Ask anyone on our team about the infamous Server Room Flood of ‘12! Luckily we backed up. #welaughaboutitnow). Use external hard drives or the cloud to backup important business documents and client files. Always better safe than sorry.
2. Plan Next Year’s Courses and Conferences
Q4 likely consisted of you and your team developing your first campaigns and editorial calendar of the New Year. So now that those details are ironed out, you might have a pretty good idea of when you’ll be available to attend important industry conferences or complete that online course you’ve been eyeing. Be purposeful in your personal and professional growth by adding this to your to-dos.
3. Assign Someone to Fill In While You’re Away
If you’re taking a few extra days this season to rest and recharge away from work life, you can still be mindful of those left back at the office. Now I know it might be unrealistic to dump all your responsibilities on a team member, but having a simple contact in place in the event of an emergency is enough to keep everyone at ease.
4. Set Boundaries by Automating Communications
Even the most successful brands set healthy boundaries over the holiday season in order to let their teams truly recharge. And since it’s often unthinkable to leave clients or customers in the dark over the holidays, consider leveraging easy tools like your email autoresponder, web forms or a web chatbot. These are simple ways to keep important lines of communication open with your audience without sacrificing your holiday.
5. Prep Your Devices for Vacation
Depending on the nature of your work, you might have to be available to colleagues or customers over the holidays. Short of lugging around your laptop and charger to every holiday gathering you go to, you can streamline some office tasks by downloading important work apps to your smartphone. Think: email client apps, calendar apps (eg. Outlook), communication apps (eg. Slack), or prototyping apps (eg. InVision). Working remotely sans laptop is possible!
6. Snooze Notifications
This might sound counterintuitive to #5 up there, but time away from the office is equally important to gearing up for the New Year ahead. Customize those app settings so only the most urgent messages get through. Create your personal balance between enjoying the holidays and being available to your colleagues when it’s totally necessary.
7. Outsource To-Dos (If You Have To!)
If there’s one thing at risk during the holiday rush, it’s your sanity. Personal and professional to-dos are at their height at the end of the year and this stress can do a number to your productivity as well as your health. If your team simply doesn’t have the cycles to complete that crucial last project or launch that final campaign, then get some specialists on the job. Outsourcing to specialists to tackle the tasks you are struggling with, lets you focus your energy elsewhere and check everything else off of your year-end to-do list.
Before everyone busts out their ugly Christmas sweaters, let’s make the last few working days of 2019 as productive and as sane as possible!