At this point, 2016 is old news. It’s practically Christmas, which is practically New Year’s. But in the middle of all of the celebrating (or rushing to get projects done before your office is a ghost town for the holidays), there are some small (but mighty effective) things you can do to wind the year down in style.
1. Give your network some love
If you had a mentor or colleague who helped you get through the year, now’s the time to let that person know how thankful you are. Nothing fancy required—a heartfelt note or a small token of your thanks is all you need to bolster your professional relationship with that person. I’m a fan of baking cookies for colleagues and friends this time of year—it’s a thoughtful, homemade way to say, “I’m thinking of you at the end of a great year.” (Of course, it’s good to know if this person has any special dietary issues if you go that route… you don’t want to hand someone a plate of delicious peanut butter cookies if they have a major peanut allergy.)
2. Set up your network for next year
Think about people you’d like to connect with in the new year to move your career forward. If you already know them and want to get to know them better, now’s the time to reach out with a simple holiday message that includes your hope to talk more in the new year. It’s best to try to set up a concrete date for coffee, lunch, or after-work drinks in January.
3. Take care of things on your pending list
Once you’re back in the office at the beginning of January, you won’t feel like going through and cleaning up loose ends from the year before. So do it now! Go through your inbox. If you have lingering to-dos that aren’t especially time-sensitive, now’s the time to put some time aside and check them off so that they’re not still haunting you later. While you’re poking around your inbox, take stock of any mailing lists you’re on. Which ones do you really need? Keep those, and unsubscribe from the rest.
4. Clean your desk
Just like your email inbox and your to-do list, you probably don’t want to come back to a messy desk. I know when I rush out the door and come back to a cluttered desk, it adds stress points before my day has even begun. Do “January You” a favor, and take some time to clean off your desk. Your pens don’t all have to be pointing in the same direction with your stapler at a perfect 90 degree angle (unless you’re into that, in which case have at it), but definitely get rid of any papers you don’t need anymore and toss outdated Post-It reminders you wrote to yourself back in May. If possible, do this as early in possible in December so that you’re not time-crunched and trying to get out of the office at the end of the month.
5. Brush up your resume
Did you know that January and February are the most popular months for job changes or promotions? If you think you might be in the market for a new or upgraded gig soon, now is a great time to look at your resume and add any new skills or achievements that you’ve acquired since you last updated it.
Even if you’re not planning on changing jobs, this is still a great exercise to do annually. Be prepared! You never know when an opportunity will present itself—and wouldn’t it be great to say, “Oh, here’s a copy of my up-to-the-minute resume!”
6. Revise your online profiles
This is an extension of updating your resume. What’s the point in getting your it in order if everything online still reflects the slightly outdated you? Make sure your LinkedIn profile—and any other online sites where you use your professional brand—is up-to-date and ready to go for the new year.
7. Get ready to improve yourself
You’re already fabulous, but who among us couldn’t use a few positive tweaks? Identify one or two areas where you could use some improvement, and come up with a game plan for 2017. Sign up for classes that start in January, or figure out where in your schedule you can take an hour or two per week to work on that skill area. Thinking about that now (and getting the ball rolling on any logistics) will make it easier to get started in January, before winter inertia settles in.
So even though it may seem like 2016 is running short, you still have plenty of time for these small investments that could pay big dividends in the new year.