For those who aren’t traveling over the holidays this season, this time represents a rare opportunity to get things done. Clients leave town, email is at a minimum and people don’t really expect much to get done.
Use this precious holiday time to get some critical project activities taken care of.
Catch up on milestones
If you have a handful of projects with milestones past due or coming up due, use the few quiet days over the holidays to complete them. Completing milestones is especially important because the more past due they become, the more helpless a project may seem, which can drain you of motivation. The holidays give you that rare second chance to bring projects back to life.
Plan for next year
I like to think of the holidays as the calm before the storm. This calm represents an ideal time to regroup your thoughts and plan for the coming storm that is the new year. Identify and draw out a plan of attack for tackling the upcoming year. This might be a formal plan in writing, or it might just be some thoughts on a napkin. Regardless, you have to think about and be ready for new opportunities before they smack you in the face.
Review your processes and methods
With most clients taking a temporary hiatus from projects, you can use that time to review and evaluate your project management methodologies and processes. Is everything working as well as you’d like? If not, what could be improved? Use what you’ve learned from the past year to come up with or improve project checklists and onboarding procedures. Spending a little time on this can go a long way in generating projects that are more smooth and prepared.
Get the little things out of the way
If you aren’t able to sit down for extended periods during the holidays to hammer out project work, then try knocking out the little to-do items. These are the items that fill up your inbox and get in the way of projects. Clear these out of the way so that at the conclusion of the holidays, you’ll at least have a fresh start on your projects.
Learn new techniques
If you’ve decided to spend the holidays not worrying about projects, try using that time to read up on new project management techniques. Some people find reading and learning to be a relaxing activity, so it might be the ideal choice for you. There are plenty of blogs, books and podcasts to consume, and you can spend time determining where your knowledge gaps are.
Explore new software and tools
In addition to learning new project management techniques, you can also spend some time trying out new project management software and tools. You might find a new tool that revolutionizes your processes or perhaps something small that saves you time. Regardless, you’ll never know what tools work best for you if you never try them out.
Figure out where you are and where you need to be
The holidays are a great time to reflect on the past year. Even with the new year coming up, you must also remember the year behind you. What have you accomplished? What did you fail to accomplish? Looking at what you’ve done and where you are can give you a good perspective for moving forward. It can also help you to determine where you need to be. If things aren’t working, what needs to happen?
In my experience, there are a good chunk of projects that always seem to be 95% done. For whatever reason, these projects just refuse to be at 100% completion. Use your free holiday time to get these projects done. It might just be a series of simple tasks or one large action that needs to happen. Whatever the case, you need to finish and wrap-up these projects so you can put them behind you.
Review past projects
Taking a look at projects you’ve completed over the past year can be a revealing activity. Look at the projects you did right and the ones you did wrong. Then take what you learn and try to visualize the perfect project. This can help you in the new year to better plan and manage projects. Furthermore, you might find loose ends on your past projects that could turn into problems. Take care of these before they become an issue.
What will you be doing for the holidays? If you’re traveling or not, do you plan on getting work done? It’s always interesting to learn the ways of other people’s work habits, so feel free to share!