The holiday season is in full swing! Though this is certainly an exciting time for the spirit, it’s a bit of an awkward time of the year for work. Projects are starting to wind down, clients are too busy and distracted to return phone calls or make any real decisions, and you tend to have less energy to maintain the momentum you’ve carried all year long.
But that doesn’t meant the holidays are a wash! There are a few different “housekeeping” tasks you can complete to get your brand ready for success in the new year and they don’t require a ton of energy and resources. It’s a win-win for both you and your boss!
Now, don’t feel like you need to tackle all of these projects before January 1st. Instead, choose the items that are most applicable to you and where your business goals are headed.
Since your customers are rather busy and preoccupied this December, now is not the time to introduce new services or products. Instead, use this time to take stock of the current state of things and audit various systems and campaigns so you can make plans for improvements. Audits are a great end-of-year activity because they assess areas of the business on both an individual and team level.
Start by choosing the areas you believe need audited the most–areas such as branding, content, email marketing, social media marketing, advertising, to name a few–and then prioritize them based on your company goals. Ideally, you should be focusing on the areas that can be addressed in the first quarter of the new year.
Before you start diving into your data, think through what you really want to analyze in that area. These areas will help you create a spreadsheet to import and evaluate your data to see what’s working and what could be optimized or improved.
For example, for a content audit, Copyblogger recommends you consider keyword research and SEO in addition to content strategy, link checks, grammar and formatting, calls to action, and headlines. You may want to also look at length, social shares, publishing date. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel: Buffer created a comprehensive blog audit template you can download and tweak here! And if you’re looking for a social media audit template, Hootsuite has one free to download as well.
Audits are fantastic for identifying very specific items to add to your task list in the new year. We recently completed one for our own blog and while we have many improvements still to make next year, we were able to push numerous updates to include internal links of related content to the site–a project we had not made time for previously.
So much of your year is spent doing, but how much time have you set aside to reflect and dream? Give yourself the gift of reflection this year by setting aside some time individually and as a team to reflect, brainstorm, and set new goals.
It’s important to take a look back at specific projects and processes as well as to evaluate your year as a whole. Here are some guiding questions you can ask yourself or your teammates:
One of the ways you can debrief as a team to go over these reflections to utilize a mini “mastermind” session: Each person shares a “win” (something that went well or something they are proud of), an area that needs growth, and an “ask” (something they could use help with or a new process to make it easier to get their job done). This provides an opportunity for open and honest discussion and hopefully results in some action items for every team member.
Once you’ve reflected on the past year, it’s time to think ahead. Spend some time thinking big and without limits. What products, services, offerings, changes, and professional development could you add or improve?
It’s best to start fleshing out ideas that have already been in the pipeline. That way, you can actually start taking action in the new year as planned.
If traditional brainstorming with a notebook or sticky note and pen or a whiteboard and marker isn’t working too well for you, Hubspot has some really fun creative exercises that encourage you to think outside the box and arrive at some really unique insights and ideas. I can see our team having a blast with the Alter-Egos/Heroes exercise.
Even if you don’t act on these ideas in the next quarter, concentrated and intentional brainstorming at the end of the year is always time well-spent.
It’s awesome to have an arsenal of ideas on your hands, but in order to be most effective in the new year, it’s time to prioritize and set some goals. These goals should be made on a personal, team, and company level to ensure that every person is contributing toward the larger picture.
These goals should not be limited to business outcomes and metrics; don’t forget to consider ways you can improve areas like company culture, hiring processes, and professional development opportunities.
Chances are you’ve been compiling a list of some “catch-up projects” all year long that you’d love to get to but just haven’t had the time to dedicate before. Whether you have a day or a week at your disposal, it’s the perfect time to crank them out.
These catch-up projects can range from things like fixing bugs or broken links to updating your contact page to surveying your clients. You know what they are! Now get to it.
One of the best ways to make sure these projects get completed is by putting a time constriction on it. Use the Pomodoro Technique or time block your schedule using an app like Toggl to maximize your available time so you can still get those other year-end responsibilities done.
Class may not be in session during the holidays, but it’s the ideal time to invest in your education. Over the past year, you’ve probably bookmarked a ton of courses, downloaded multiple eBooks, or had your eye on a book but haven’t made the time.
If you’re at the end of a project and want something to balance out all of that reflecting and brainstorming for the company, get a head start on your own professional development by learning a new skill or investing in your knowledge to take your work to the next level. It’s the perfect excuse to book a conference room and buddy up with a colleague or even your entire team, head to a coffee shop with some earbuds, or make use of those cozy work-from-home days!
If you’re looking for an engaging and relevant marketing conference, check out Connect via Hootsuite 2016–the world’s largest virtual social media conference (don’t miss our presentation!).
December may be a crazy time of year, but it doesn’t have to be a wash, nor does it have to be a stressful race to the finish line. Taking the time to reevaluate and reconnect with your business goals and ideas and investing in your own professional growth will be critical to achieving success in the next quarter and beyond.
Over to you: What holiday housekeeping does your team do to take advantage of the slow season and set things up for the new year?