Take Advantage of Your Holiday Downtime

I’ve come to accept that very little business, aside from retail, gets done from the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday to after New Years. After a few years of chasing people who were party bouncing or traveling, I decided to simply disconnect in December. In 2009, a month in London helped me flesh out a new book concept. In 2011, a month spent in Vietnam was an eye-opening cultural learning experience. (It was fairly eye-opening for my then-new Vietnamese in-laws as well.)

Whether you are going to cruise the party scene, manage the buying rush or simply disconnect, there is no reason you have to let the holidays be less than productive for your business and career. I have personally found a combination of engagement and distance works best for me. Here are the five R’s I will follow this year to maximize the potential of my holiday activities.

1. Reconnect

This is a great time to reach out and make contact with important people you haven’t spoken to in a while. Send them a holiday wish or e-card to remind them why they are important to you. Better yet, as long as you are in the holiday mode, get a small gathering of friends together for a little holiday cheer. No need for a big party. Keep it to a few people with whom you really want to spend some quality time. Even if they can’t work you into their party schedule, you’ll be fresh in their minds to connect in the new year.

2. Reflect

With New Year’s around the corner, this is the best chance to look back on the year and think about what you’ve learned and what’s left to resolve. Make a list of your five greatest accomplishments from last year and identify any patterns in your behavior that led to the success. For more learning, list five failures from the year and identify behavior patterns you can improve to make for a better year ahead.

3. Reposition

It’s a good chance to start anew with how you are presenting yourself in the business community. Take a detailed assessment of your website, your marketing materials, your Facebook page, your YouTube page and especially your LinkedIn profile. Make sure these broadcasting tools present you and your company in a truthful, positive and up-to-date manner. Make sure what you are projecting is consistent with your values and goals for the future. Make sure your message to the public is clear and compelling for next year.

4. Recruit

Now is your best opportunity to find those people who will help you soar in the new year. Whether you are seeking new connections, employees, mentors or partners, the holiday season is timely for beginning those conversations. Many people are reassessing their year and thinking about what’s ahead, and the generous, festive atmosphere makes them more open to ideas they wouldn’t normally consider. Keep your eyes and ears open at parties and gatherings for those who can help on your journey, and make contact.

5. Relax

Even though you may have extracurricular activity or year-end filings or a retail rush, most of you will still have several days of pure business downtime, much of it from 24 December to 2 January. Take advantage of the frequent slow-call days, half-days, and long weekends to rest, regenerate and recharge. Spend quality family time or alone time to get ready for the year ahead. The first quarter can be the most focused and productive, particularly in cold-weather areas. Start January feeling strong, positive and raring to achieve your preferred future.


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Kevin Daum is an award winning and bestselling author of 5 books. He is a marketer, speaker, and columnist for Inc.com and Smart Business Magazine. As an Inc. 500 entrepreneur, his sales and marketing techniques resulted in more than $1 billion in sales. Drawing on his background in theatre and business, Kevin is a compelling speaker who has engaged and inspired audiences around the globe. Kevin is a graduate of the MIT Entrepreneurial Masters program and has received the Global Learning Award 3 times from the Entrepreneur’s Organization, where he held several board positions. Kevin has designed, produced, and led award-winning executive training programs and events for C-level executives and entrepreneurs on four continents. Previously, Kevin was named one of the 40 people to watch under 40 in San Francisco by the Business Times and in 2006 was named Distinguished Alum of the Year by his alma mater, Humboldt State University.