‘Tis the season… to be bored at work, it seems.
Although there’s plenty going on during the holidays—work parties, family gatherings, holiday shopping, baking—the work front slows down considerably.
And while this might suit some of your colleagues, you would prefer to not stall until the New Year.
The good news is, there’s plenty you can do to stoke your productivity while the rest of the world seems to slow down.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or if you’re employed in the traditional sense, the following six tips will help you make the most of your holiday-induced downtime at work.
1. Write email response templates
How many emails do you field each week? How many of those emails could be answered with the same reply—if only you could copy and paste the same response to everyone who’s asked a similar question?
Use your holiday downtime to write up a handful of response templates to help you through these types of situations in the future. In the end, you’ll have a file with all of your email response forms that you can copy, paste, and personalize for each message you send. Although everyone’s work responsibilities will be different, common response template topics include sending attachments, responding to feedback, and acknowledging a message while delaying a full response.
2. Reorganize your inbox
Here’s another email-centric task: cleaning up and organizing your overflowing inbox. Chances are good you have hundreds or even thousands of read emails that you have yet to delete. At some point, these messages were important—but now they’re just collecting virtual dust.
Everyone’s organizing style will be different. If your inbox is just one giant catchall, consider setting up folders and labels under which you can organize incoming emails from now on. Then, go through your existing emails and file away what you want to keep. Delete what you no longer need to hold onto and watch as the messages sitting in your mailbox slowly but surely disappear.
3. Prepare for an impending review
You’re coasting up to Christmas, but the New Year will bring your annual review. During this one-on-one with your manager, you’ll talk about how you succeeded, what you’ll work on next year, and the potential raise you could earn for your hard work.
Obviously, you want to go into your review with examples of everything you’ve done well, but you’ll also want to consider the weaknesses you plan to turn into strengths in the coming year. As for that raise, do some research into the wage you’re earning per hour and compare it to industry averages for your role.
If you’re working hard and not being rewarded for it, your performance review is the perfect time to bring that fact to the forefront.
4. Automate daily to-dos
Okay, okay: you can’t automate every step of your daily to-do list. But familiarizing yourself with the automation options out there could boost your productivity year-round. Now that you have free time, though, you can research your options and find which automation apps could work for you and make your job even easier.
For example, if you’re involved in social media marketing, you can find apps that make tweets automatic. You’ll still have to pen the tweets yourself, of course, but you can write them all ahead of time and schedule postings so you no longer have to press that “Tweet” button. You can also brush up your email marketing by using apps that can proofread or give you templates.
5. Fill in a new calendar
How do you stay organized? If the answer to that question is, “I live and die by my planner,” then use the pre-Christmas chill as the perfect window for obtaining and setting up your planner before you come back to work after New Year’s.
Compare your new book to your old one and copy over any important dates that’ll still be important in the coming year. You can also begin to fill your planner with appointments you set up during your downtime, too—use this time to schedule the meetings you want and need once everyone’s back to the grind.
Chances are good that, because things are so slow, you’ll be in a league of your own with your forward thinking and thoughtful planning.
6. Ask for more to do
When in doubt, ask. Some of your coworkers might enjoy coasting up until the holiday, but if you feel as though there’s more to do and that none of it’s falling on your plate, all you have to do is ask someone for something to do.
Not only will this help make the hours pass by more quickly, but it’ll also be a good look for you. Your boss will see your work ethic in comparison to the pre-Christmas coasters and it won’t go unnoticed. In fact, you can mention these extra end-of-year contributions when those annual performance reviews roll around. Your hard work will shine when it really counts, which is especially good news when a raise could be on the table.
Make the most of 2018 now
No matter how you use your downtime, one thing is for sure: you’ll be ahead of the game if you make the most of your free hours. And with the right amount of planning now, you can avoid the post-New Year’s rush.
Instead, you’ll ease right back into work after the holidays because you’ve organized yourself, boosted your productivity with technology’s help and made an impression on your boss with your work ethic.
In other words, it’s time to go make the most of 2018 and beyond—but you have to start now!
Feeling overwhelmed? Get more out of your to-do list by working smarter, rather than harder.