I like to think of November as one big deadline for scheduling in every remaining meeting and event for the end of the year.
This isn't because I believe December's an unproductive time, but rather because everyone else does.
For some reason we get to the final month of the year and people start saying things like "we'll take a look at it in the new year" or "let's get cracking on that in January" or, my least favourite of all, "let's wait until things settle down after the summer break."
When do things ever "settle down"?
Fact is, putting off to-do items for another six weeks doesn't help anyone and 2013's going to be no less busy than 2012. I'd rather get what needs to be done now and avoid the lingering whiff of unfinished business stinking up my fresh start to the year.
So, for the sake of other people, it helps to get your entire December diary sorted now, in November, when the impending doom of the "C word" (Christmas) isn't yet completely causing your colleagues, clients and contacts to go silly with the "can't do anything for the next three weeks because I've got end-of-year functions to attend" thinking.
Check out my five-step guide below.
- Spend one hour away from your desk, thinking about what you need to get done before Christmas. Write a to-do list and mark down the individuals you need to meet with, delegate to, or contact, in order to make each item happen.
- Add to the list personal to-do items. This may include present shopping, holiday planning and buying the Christmas ham. Get it all down and it won't seem so impossibly daunting four weeks out.
- Assign each item a deadline. Figure out what needs to be done when and give each item a due date. Then open a new page or spreadsheet and write out the list again, this time in order of the dates you've listed.
- Find a power-scheduling time. This task has to be done this week because if you leave it too late you risk having others worry about making bookings in December and potentially committing the put-it-off crime of "how about in January?" Find a morning or afternoon when you can make the calls and write the necessary emails in order to set up appointments. Delegate tasks to your team and outline, in person then in writing, what you expect each one of them to achieve before the end of the year. Ask them to also provide details on how they'll get there and what diary plans they need to make with external contacts in order to make it happen.
- Plan your holiday/break/New Year's Eve. We all need to look forward to something and if you haven't already, now's a good time to book it in. If you've got the flights and accommodation planned, then have a think about where you'd like to eat out one night. Or, if you're staying at home, plan an evening or day out with friends. There's no better end-of-year motivation than actually having some end-of-year plans.
You've got three days. Now get started.