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How to be productive at work post-holidays

January 15, 2013
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OK, admit it: coming back to work in January is hard. It just might be the hardest month of the year.

After all, the holidays just flew by—Thanksgiving was 8 weeks ago already. It seems like it was only 10 minutes ago that we were carving the turkey!

Business pretty much grinds to a halt at the end of the year. We spend time with our families, we rest, we play and many of us take our annual vacation. We review the past year and make resolutions for the new year.

Then January hits us like a cold shower. We want to hit the ground running when in fact, most of us are struggling to create the momentum from before the holidays.

On top of this it is so easy to become distracted.

Thanks to the Internet, there is no shortage of related items to distract you while you pretend that you are working. 

But here’s the good news: You’re not alone. Your coworkers and colleagues around the country would similarly prefer to skip the upcoming meetings or put off making that phone call or writing that report for at least a few more days.

We all need to shake off the cobwebs.

But it’s precisely because nobody else wants to be working all that hard that you have the chance to make this one of your most productive months of the year.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Wake up a little earlier than usual and find ways to motivate yourself for just today--tomorrow will take care of itself. It’s nice to read a quote from someone that you admire.
  • Think of the new year as a time to recreate yourself. Take action on this right now.
  • Do or try one new thing every single day that puts you either closer to a goal or just makes you feel good. For example: make a phone call, ask for advice, do some research, reach out to someone that you haven’t been in touch with in a while.
  • Do not out-think yourself. Dive into what needs to be done right now. 
  • Understand that everyone else is also facing the “start-up” of a new year, so reject the idea that you are alone with the new year challenge.
  • Be as cheerful as you can, even if you’re faking it--your boss and coworkers are watching you. This includes being kind to yourself.
  • Reactivate projects or ideas that you had last year. Even if you do not feel the passion that you did last year, try anyway.  You just might recapture the magic.
  • Return phone calls. No matter what, returning phone calls is courteous. In addition, you might learn information that you didn’t have last year.
  • Create small successes for yourself and feel good about your progress. Measuring progress in very small increments is healthy. Progress means different things to different people. Progress can be as simple as thinking of a new idea or approach to your work.
  • Stop texting and reading emails for large chunks of your day. Unless there is an emergency, texting and emailing are distractions to what you are doing right now.
  • Be fully aware that business too has seasons. Knowing this, create the momentum right now (January) that is necessary to achieve your results for the next business season. 

In summary, January is a month of renewal and creativity. Spend your time doing the things that truly matter and start the year with a bang!

A reminder: New Year’s eve is right around the corner!

Bernie Reifkind

CEO, Premier Search, Inc

Bernie Reifkind


Bernie Reifkind is the founder and CEO of Premier Search, Inc. a nationwide executive search...