It’s the end of the year, and we know it.
We see it creeping into our short-range plans, and we feel it when we nervously start contemplating the work that needs to be done between now and then. We feel it deep inside our tired HR souls when we think anxiously about what flipping the calendar from one year to the next means.
It’s the end of the year, and its time we plan for it.
Here’s how in three obvious, easy, and doable steps.
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Count the Days
The end of the year is sneaky. We tend to overlook just how many things need to be done and just how few days there are to work with. Depending on your holiday schedule, you many only have a few weeks to work with.
The first step in addressing the challenge is knowing what you are working with.
Don’t get caught off guard when deadlines sneak up on you. Count the work days you have left in the year!
Build Your To Do List
You’d be surprised by how often a simple process like this gets overlooked.
It’s not enough too look at your current task list and your current calendar and start your planning. You have to anticipate the work that needs to be done. You have to come up with ideas to address challenges before they arise.
In a shortened time frame, you can’t afford to be surprised.
Spend 10 minutes, yes, JUST 10 MINUTES, cycling through your task list and calendar from last year. Make a list of everything you worked on last year, add to it any ideas that the old list sparks, compare it with your current work, and spend time thinking through how it will all play out this year.
Your list will by no means be all-inclusive, but you will substantially mitigate the risk of a major, and completely unanticipated task surprising you.
You might be tempted to start attacking your list immediately, but it’s probably best that you let it sit for a while. Take a walk, work on something else, or even let a day pass. Let the ideas sit in your mind. Notice how you gain clarity as you put a bit of perspective between yourself and the work to be done.
When you come back to your list, review it. Add anything that you may have thought of in the time since and start prioritizing the work.
The key is to prioritize the tasks that are time sensitive, have the highest potential to cause trouble, and those that will clear the path for other work to be done
This means you might have to pass on that “low hanging fruit” for now.
Everyone has their own way of doing this, but I highly recommend working backward and using post its or a dry erase board. Look at your task list and think about what needs to be done last, then organize everything before that in reverse chronological order.
Doing this with post-it notes, a dry erase board (or any medium that lets you move ideas around easily) forces you to think through dependencies. It makes you think about what has to come first before a specific task can be started or completed. And that’s exactly the point.
If you do this right, you will end up with a timeline of tasks and some general due dates. It should now be clear what needs to be done first, and what you need to focus your efforts on. You’ll know if you have some flexibility with some tasks and none with others.
If you make it this far, you will have taken control of your work, reduced the stress that comes with it, and be well ahead when it comes to closing out the year.
Everything here is easy, obvious and doable.
The hard part is choosing to do it.