Last year, an expert claimed that the Christmas shutdown in Northern Ireland cost the economy £100 million. Yet, all over the UK, the question around whether some office-based businesses should shut down between Christmas and New Year continues to be raised.
‘Believers’ think it improves morale and productivity, especially when employers return in January. On the other hand, opposers don’t like to be told when they have to take their holiday and actually think it’s a waste of time booking days off when they will work reduced hours and get little done anyway.
Whatever camp you’re in, if you didn’t take advantage of four days paid annual leave in return for 11 consecutive days off work, then you may be stuck in the office against your will or by choice. Within most businesses, these few days can be quiet regardless of what sector you work in and it can be hard to concentrate if you struggle to shake the constant Friday-come-festive feeling.
For those of you who are always busy and work better when there are less people around, then this is a great time to catch up and get some of those ‘someday, one day, maybe’ tasks off your to-do list.
However, if you’re simply ‘present’, then here are a few mind-numbing tasks that will make the time go quickly. They require minimal concentration or creativity and allow you to plug in those headphones and singalong to your favourite playlist at the same time.
Fed up of seeing the ‘Mailbox Full’ notification pop-up every now and then and be forced to do a quick deleting session while you’re in the middle of something? Or are you that one employee the IT company always complains about because you take up too much storage?
Take the time to work through your emails and delete, archive and file away! Filtering by ‘from’ tends to work well, as you can delete earlier conversation threads and stay focused on a few topics at a time, which makes filing easier.
Email clear-outs can be a source of inspiration as you come across those interesting ideas you never got around to implementing, or that really important attachment you could never find!
De-clutter your space
You’d be surprised at how many piles of pointless paperwork and useless items can accumulate around your work space throughout the year. Last year’s budget report, dirty coffee mugs, half-completed to-do lists that you haven’t looked at for six months…the list goes on.
Empty every draw, clear your desk surfaces of clutter and go through everything before deciding whether to keep and use, keep and file or throw away. Remember to shred or recycle where possible!
Whether you need marketing campaign ideas, have to catch up on industry updates and trends or want to look into potential new leads, research takes time. It can take hours of refining your keywords and Google search methods before you find the information you are looking for, but it’s critical in a lot of roles.
Casually browsing the internet, or going back through your newsletter subscriptions and magazines while taking notes can mean you’re one step ahead when it comes to planning the year ahead.
Using quiet periods to plan can help you prioritise your workload and discard tasks that have become irrelevant or outdated. Whether it’s a simple to-do list or formal plan that you will be sharing with others and inviting people to contribute to, start planning now.
If you are still at the ideas stage, start with a ‘brain dump’ into a document. Then spend time refining your ideas and turning them into actionable tasks, with steps, deadlines and responsibilities. You can use detailed spreadsheets or free project management tools like TrelloBoards.
By the time you return to the office in full work mode in January, it will take you no time to get back into the swing of things.
Hannah Hashtroudi (nee Darby)
Principal Recruitment Consultant
Hannah is a specialist in the Office & Commercial sector. Dedicated, hardworking and motivated, Hannah thrives on sourcing and placing the best talent from SME’s through to large blue chip companies across the region and in London. Hannah has grown an enviable reputation for sourcing high level senior appointments together …