What To Do Over the “Dull Days”

Many of us throw up our hands during of January, and rationalize that no one is buying anything, answering mail, responding to phone calls, or remotely interested in meetings during the aftermath of the lengthy “holiday season.” That may or may not be true (for example, recent studies show that organizations with vacancies continue to seek and hire candidates right through that period), but there are a great many things “to do” despite real or perceived lack of buyer attention.

It’s a great time to overhaul the computer, which should occur annually, anyway. This means upgrading systems and software, creating backups, removing ancient applications and files, and reorganizing how you maintain control. (If it takes you seven steps to save a document or email into the proper folder, or you have to perform a “search” in order to locate files, you’ve lost control.) You can also rearrange and improve your logistics around the work station, including lighting, chair, support materials, and so on. All of this applies to your lap top, as well. (If you’re tired of emailing files back and forth or copying them to a disk, simply arrange a file sharing hook-up.)

Purge your client and prospect hard copy files. Throw out former client files over two years old, but search them first for useful outlines, learning aids, and other materials developed for that clients. These can go into common folders labeled “consulting techniques,” “visual aids,” and so forth.

Reorganize and update your data bases. Make sure your phone lists are up to date. Create separate files, perhaps, for clients, prospects, friends, media, and so on. Ensure that your email programs contain the needed addresses and related information. Use a merge procedure to create common lists for quick emailing (e.g., press releases to media sources).

Consider creating that product you’ve thought about for years. Start with the learning objectives and proceed through design. Hold discussions with designers and suppliers to estimate cost. Record, write, or otherwise construct your model to test with others.

Improve your web site. Test it for downloading time, navigability, perceived value, and immediate impact on visitors. Ask some people to provide you with feedback. Modernize graphics and update references and statistics. Does your biographical sketch represent who you are today accurately? (Do the exact same thing with your hard copy press kit.)

Catch up on your reading. Obtain both the business books and pleasure books you’ve been meaning to get around to. Make a plan to read two a week. Also, go through all of your subscriptions and dump publications which you don’t read or have disappointed you, and secure new ones which hold promise for your business and personal plans.

Visit your tax expert and/or accountant. Aside from early planning for tax liabilities, determine if your retirement plan, liquidity, pricing, rate of growth, and other measures are commensurate with your life style and family objectives. Consider improving retirement savings and insurance plans, and aggressively pay down debt (which is the same or better than savings, in most cases).

Plan your vacations and civic/social obligations for the next year. Allot time for important personal and professional events. Build your schedule around these saved periods when the time comes.

Correct “necessary evils” in your life, that you haven’t had time to get to. Fix the garage door that closes improperly, change the phone with the poor reception, get the car tuned. Now is the time to eliminate the little annoyances that, when added together, create big stress.

Finally, enjoy your family, interests, friends, and life. Reflect on your good fortune. Play with the dog. Revel in the rewards of the profession in terms of freedom and personal choice, especially since you bear the attendant risks every day. There is a good reason that it’s called “the holiday season.”