Monday, December 22, 2008

Take Advantage of the Slow Time

The holidays are notoriously slow. In fact, one of my Corporate America pet peeves is the oft-spoken rule that "nothing will get done between Thanksgiving and New Year's." It seems to become a more ingrained self-fulfilling prophecy every year, but the slower pace can also present opportunities for you to focus on creating options for yourself.

Here's a quick list of suggestions to seize on during the holidays:

Books. Hit the bookstore and grab a couple of those books you've been meaning to read (see my Amazon list on the right for some suggestions) and to find some new jewels. Begin with a clear focus on topics to make sure you don't end up walking out with another Dilbert book (understandably irresistible to the cubicle crowd). Then get out your pencil for note-taking and dive in!

Online Research. Dig around the internet and read up on small business / entrepreneurship. I have not found it to be the easiest of topics for this, but see what you can find. You can get through a lot of the internet in an hour! Pop open the laptop and do some digging while you watch It's a Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time. INC magazine's site isn't great, but it's not bad. Norm Brodsky's articles are very good. If you don't get the magazine in the mail (and at $15 a year, there's no reason you shouldn't), go back and read his. I have come across one other blog on a topic similar to mine. She's been working on a book (Newman! She's beating me to it.), so her posts are less frequent of late, but try the archives. Get out on this world wide interweb thingy and see what you can see.

Networking. Not everyone is out of town during the holidays, so drop that excuse. And for people with company in town, many would relish the chance to get out of the house for just about any reason other than shopping or returns. Reach out and see who else might be around for the holidays to help you expand your network. For those in town, it's a great time to avoid work, school, and other conflicts.

Conversations with Family and Friends. I include this one, because you are probably think, "What in the world can I learn from that cousin that used to make fart noises under his arm when we were kids?" Well, that cousin probably thinks the same thing about you and your ability to make milk spray out your nose! But you've both changed (hopefully!) and might need to find some new topics of conversation. Ask questions and then ask some more to learn what you can from relatives that might be in areas of potential interest to you. Warning: This one's certainly not foolproof, but it's worth a try. Also, you know those holiday parties you dread (especially New Years)? Take the opportunity to meet new folks and ask lots of questions. Make connections. I guarantee that you will come away with a couple of interesting new additions to your network.

Finally, if you are going into the office during the holidays, it's also a time when you frequently find you get your "day's worth" of work done in about half of the time thanks to fewer meetings and other distractions. Take advantage of the flexibility and efficiency to make some progress on multiple fronts. You'd be surprised what actually can get done in December!

And with that, I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

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