It is easy to feel overwhelmed as you approach the end of the year. The holidays are typically some of the busiest times of the year for businesses and with the end of the year also comes the pressure of trying to finish everything before December 31st. Unfortunately, many business owners often overlook the valuable opportunity this time of year brings. December is the perfect time of the year to look back at the previous 12 months and set goals moving forward.
There are four must-do tasks that can help you set your business up for success in the upcoming new year. The more you are able to set aside time to complete these tasks, the better off you will be, but you don’t necessarily need a whole lot of time to see results. You could easily dedicate just as little as 1 hour per week, and you will have completed all your tasks before the new year arrives.
Clean up your inbox
Let’s face it, cleaning up your inbox is probably one of the most frustrating and stressful tasks that you can do at work. Start your new year off stress-free by cleaning up your overflowing inbox. While it may be tempting to merely select all emails and click that, “Mark as Read” button, you should take the time to go through your messages one by one and determine whether they are urgent or if they can be deleted. Make sure to reply to any urgent messages and remove yourself from any email chains that you don’t need to be a part of. To help keep your inbox from getting messy again as you move into the new year, make sure to create filters to keep the clutter away.
It would also be a good idea to schedule a time to declutter your inbox once per month or at least once per quarter. Doing it more frequently will save you a lot of time next year. While you can’t expect to maintain a perfectly clean inbox, you can at least better control the flow of emails if you clean it out more frequently.
Finish up those small tasks
Small tasks tend to pile up as we often put them off to deal with more important things. Now is the time to take care of those small tasks as the more you can take care of now the better prepared you will be for the new year. Take some extra time to reply to emails or put the finishing touches on a project. That stack of papers on the end of your desk? Take the time to file those now. Taking care of the smaller tasks will allow you to start the new year focusing on the much more important bigger things and not having to worry about catching up.
Review and reflect the past year
One of the best things about the end of the year is that you are already in reflection mode. You are probably beginning to think about New Year’s resolutions as well as thinking about time spent with your family and friends during the holidays. As you reflect on your personal goals and life, you should do the same with your business and career.
When you find yourself reflecting about the past year, make a note of both the good and bad side of things. Determine where you are in your career, where you want to be, and how what you have learned the past year can help you improve. It would also be beneficial to ask coworkers and management for feedback on your performance. Sometimes it is difficult to see where we stand from our own point of view, so an outsider’s perspective can be constructive when reflecting.
Plan for the next 12 months
Once you have put a good amount of time into reflecting upon the past year and what you have learned, it is time to take that knowledge and put it into action by setting goals. Make sure to create long-term goals as well as smaller goals that complement one another and will help you reach your primary goal. Once you have determined what your goals will be, whether big or small, you will need to create an outline on how you will reach those goals, when you want to accomplish them, and ways you can keep yourself on track throughout the year.
If you want to be ready to hit the ground running next year, make sure to take the time to complete each of these tasks. Spread them out over the months or take them all on in one sitting, whatever is best for your work style. The most important thing is that you complete them.