With the end of the year fast approaching, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The holidays are often the busiest time of year and there’s the added pressure of trying to finish up everything before December 31st.
What’s often overlooked, however, is the valuable opportunity this time of year offers. The last month of the year is the prime time to look back at the previous 12 months and set goals for the next 12.
There are four tasks that can help you set yourself up for business success in the upcoming year. The more time you can spend on these tasks, the better, but you don’t need a lot of time to see results. If you dedicate as little as one hour each week, you’ll have completed all of the tasks by the end of December.
Review and reflect on the past 12 months.
The best thing about the end of the year is that you’re already primed and ready to be in reflection mode. You’re most likely starting to think about New Years’ resolutions as well as reminiscing about times past with your family and friends during the holidays. Just as you reflect on your personal life and set goals, you should do the same in your career and business.
When reflecting, take a look back at both the good and the bad sides of things. Take stock of where you are in your career in regard to where you want to be, evaluate what went well for you professionally, and areas in which you can improve. Ask your managers and colleagues for feedback as well your own self-reflection. Be thorough in your reflections, as the more detailed they are, the better you’ll be able to reflect on them. This directly correlates to the next task.
Make a game plan for the next 12 months.
Once you’ve done your reflecting, it’s time to turn that into action. That action comes in the form of setting goals. Create a broad goal for the entire year, plus smaller goals that complement and help you reach your main goal. From there, create an outline of how you’ll reach those goals, when you want to accomplish them, and ways that you can ensure you stay on track. This becomes your action plan for the year.
Clean up your inbox.
An overflowing inbox is one of the biggest sources of stress at work. Leave this stress behind in the new year by starting off with a fresh, uncluttered inbox. This is not the time to simply select all of your emails and mark them as read. Thoroughly go through your messages keeping two things in mind – is it urgent and can it be deleted? Reply right away to any urgent messages and remove yourself from email chains that you don’t need to be a part of. From there, create filters to help keep your inbox as clutter free as possible.
To keep this momentum going, don’t leave your next big inbox clean up until the end of the next year. Schedule a time to do it once per month, or at least once per quarter. Inbox zero is nearly impossible, but having control of your inbox is well within reach.
Finish as many small tasks as possible.
The more small tasks you can check off your to do list, the better you’ll be prepared to hit the ground running in the new year. Take 20 extra minutes to reply to emails or tie up any loose ends on a project. File the paperwork that you’ve been putting off. It’s the little things that matter the most in this case. Taking care of those tasks will ensure that you start the year off focusing on the bigger things and not playing catch up. In other words, don’t procrastinate and leave things until January. Yes, this is much easier said than done, but it’s also the most important.
If you’re ready to take hit the ground running next year, make time to complete each of these tasks. Spread them out over the whole month or tackle them all in one sitting, it’s up to you. Completing them is all that matters. Want an even better next 12 months? Make the time to complete these tasks all year round.