ulleo / Pixabay

It’s that magical time of year, the start of the end-of-year holiday season. If you’re in the United States, you’re just getting over your turkey hangover, your colleagues all may seem to be on vacation, and it probably feels like a great time to coast your way to the end of the year.

You’ve probably got a laundry list of items that you’d like to do though – planning, budgets, brainstorming, and more. But with short, dark days and more and more people disappearing from the office as the weeks pass, it can be easy to chalk up the lack of productivity to “well, it’s like this every November and December!”

Throughout my years in the workforce, I’ve learned that this is actually a very critical time – how you spend it can set the tone for the start of your next year.

Here are some ideas for how to make the best use of the coming month to set yourself for success throughout 2018.

1) Get Reflective

December is a great time to take a look back. Evaluate 2017 holistically – what went well? What didn’t? Dig into the numbers and reporting and see if you can find any trends that could influence your 2018 plan.

For example, review all opportunities that were closed lost, or opportunities that went stagnant – are there any patterns across them? Can you re-engage them with a special offer or unique piece of content at the start of the new year?

2) Queue Up a Campaign for the Beginning of January.

The (understandable) excitement surrounding this time of year can make it easy to fall into a slower cadence. When thinking about your next big piece of content or major campaign, “It can wait till January,” is something I’ve convinced myself of many times before.

But if you lose steam now, come January 2, you’ll have nothing in hand to put out into the market, and it may not be till late January that you actually get anything finalized. Plan for and develop resources to support two to three campaigns that are ready to launch right when you are back in the office January 2, so that you get the year off to a strong start.

3) Plan Beyond January

Don’t just have a plan for January – take this time of year to take the long view. What do you want to accomplish long-term, beyond January, beyond Q1? What does the rest of 2018 look like? Think beyond just your marketing program – how do you want to advance your career? What skills do you want to focus on developing? It’s a great time of year to focus on the big picture.

4) Sign Off on Any Key Contracts and Programs

Before heading out for vacation, make sure all your T’s are crossed and your I’s are dotted on any key contracts. The last thing you want is an unwelcome surprise after the first when you realize something was missed and you were depending on a key program or technology to support your marketing efforts.

Look at channels like paid media, sponsored content, key technologies, and more before heading out the door.

5) Do the Things You Never Have Time For

If you’re anything like me, both your physical desktop and computer desktop progressively become a mess throughout the year. Spend some of the more quiet days addressing the kinds of organizational tasks you always put off – clean up, filing, research, etc.

It’s my favorite reason to work the week between Christmas and New Years – few people are around to interrupt you! Also, take the time to catch up on reading you’ve been meaning to do, or even consider finding a webinar or two to attend.

6) Spend Those End-of-Year Dollars

We’ve all been there – end of year comes and you inexplicably have money to burn. End of the year is a great time to look at new technologies and other solutions you’ve been considering. If you wait until formal budget approval in 2018 to start research, at best, you’ll be deploying and using those tools in Q2.

You better be researching, not buying, that software now – most vendors will get creative on payment terms to align with your billing needs. What can you bring in-house now to help start 2018 strong?

7) Take a Breath

2017 is almost over! Take a minute to celebrate the year and any key milestones you’ve hit. Why not take the team out for a celebratory drink or order in some pizza?

What are you going to do this December to ensure a successful 2018? Tell us in the comments!