Suggestions on What to Do Between Christmas and New Year's

Rob Enderle
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Congratulations to those of you who are off, but this is for the poor saps who have to come into a near-empty office and hold down the fort while everyone is out.


I had an uncle who, during this time, would take customer calls and forward the calls to empty desks where he would pick up the phone and pretend, with the same voice, that he was someone else only to apologize, suggest they talk to someone else and do it again until they figured out the joke. Let's just say this turned out not to be the best career move and Goodyear, the company where he worked, assisted him out of the company.


Of course, I remember one year at IBM when I was working on a report deadline 12 hours a day and 6 days a week during the holidays only to get a note from the CEO accusing us of taking advantage of him by not being on vacation because, since the plant was closed, we were clearly screwing off. I kid you not - someone actually rigged his plane to catch fire and while the person was never caught I often wonder if he, or she, had received that memo. So on the list of things not to do would be both playing jokes on customers and sending nasty memos to employees. Here are some thoughts about what you could do.


Clean House


This seems obvious, but what I like to do is to pretend I'm moving and box everything up. That gives me a chance to see again what I have and get rid of all the junk that has accumulated. I can then clean places that haven't seen the light of day for months and then put back the stuff I took out with the result being that I can then find much of it more quickly. Part of this process is to catch up on labeling files and recycling or shredding the stuff I no longer have.


Analyze Your Last Review


We often work so hard that we never stop to think about what our boss is telling us in our review, particularly if we didn't get the score or the raise we had expected. Take this time to sit back and ponder what was said to you. For me, one year I realized that I worked for a complete a-hole and decided to transfer out of the department, but you may find that your boss is trying to get you to grow into responsibilities you haven't yet accepted. You wouldn't be alone - look at Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer. He has yet to fully step into the responsibilities of his job and still, for the most part, appears to be doing the job he did while Bill Gates was there.


This is common - we don't like change, and we'll likely avoid hearing the need to make it, particularly if we are under a lot of pressure. Take this time to consider what is and what isn't working and what you need to change to both be happier and more successful. You might want to spend some time just jotting down what you enjoy and what you really hate about your job and what needs to be done to enhance the former and eliminate the latter.


Think About Retirement


So many folks look ahead to retirement but don't actually plan for it. They are often left retired but wishing they were still back at work. That's why you see ex-admirals as greeters at Walmart. With planning, you can be financially and mentally set for your retirement and you can better understand if you ever really want to retire.


There are a lot of jobs that pretty much let you work until you are no longer able and, for a lot of us, as strange as that sounds, that is actually the happier path. A week or a month off sounds like a lot of fun, but after a while you may find that time drags on and all you do is find out you never really liked your spouse that much in the first place. You have some quiet time, so spend it thinking about what you would like to do after work and begin the process of planning for it. I think of Steve Jobs, who should have retired for his own good at least 5 years before he died and might have lived had he focused more on getting better. There is a good lesson there, so don't wait too long to learn it.


Wrapping Up: Share Thanks


I'm reminded of Carly Fiorina at HP who never learned to take care of the folks who took care of her. This is also the time to think about the folks who helped you get where you are, from co-workers to relatives to teachers. It is a great time to remember to thank them, particularly those you still work with, because that reminds you how important they are and how lucky you are to have them.


And with this final thought I'd like to thank the IT Business Edge editing staff. I couldn't do this without you folks and I hope you are having a wonderful week off!

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