Four Ways to Put December Downtime to Work for Your Career

In offices across the country and around the world, December slows down as many professionals take vacation days over the holidays. If you’re one of those who did not, this quiet period can be an ideal time to get caught up with the old and ready to tackle the new in the coming year.

Here are four ways to take advantage of the December downtime at the office.

  1. Do the tasks that fall to the bottom of your list.

We all have that project that gets pushed to the bottom of the list when other, more important tasks come up. Before you know it, it’s been a to-do item for a whole year. Putting the work off for so long can make tackling it seem even less appealing than before, too.

Despite the negative association you may have with a lingering deliverable, the quiet period at the office is the perfect time to dig in, focus on what needs to be done and take the time to complete it. Then you can end the old year with a clean slate and begin the new one with a sense of accomplishment.

  1. Get organized.

When the days, weeks and months are a whirlwind of meetings and deadlines, it’s easy for your desk to get buried under an avalanche of paperwork you can’t keep up with.

When your coworkers are enjoying their vacation time, you can get your act together by sorting through paperwork and updating and purging your paper files. After that, it’s time to take on your electronic files and emails. You can clean out your folders by deleting any early versions of files you won’t need. Then make sure your electronic folders—emails included—make sense. You can rename them, move files around and archive anything you won’t need to refer to regularly.

After that, you can refresh your space by getting rid of that dead plant, adding a photo or two and putting up your new calendar. Come January 2, you’ll be decluttered, de-stressed and ready to go.

  1. Update your resume and LinkedIn presence.

You may not be looking for a job, but that doesn’t mean you should let your top career tools get outdated. It’s a best practice to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile current. That way you’re ready if an unexpected opportunity comes your way.

You can use the lull at your office to dust off your resume, add any new projects or achievements to it and remove anything that won’t resonate with hiring managers. Then, take a close look at your LinkedIn profile. Your photo should be a professional shot, and it should be a current likeness—not a favorite from a decade or two ago.

Make sure your LinkedIn summary reflects where you are now, check that your skills and endorsements listing is comprehensive and add any volunteer experience you may have forgotten to post. You can also request recommendations to round out your profile and be ready for prospects at a moment’s notice. While you’re at it, write those recommendations that colleagues have requested from you but you haven’t gotten around to doing.

  1. Get current with your professional association status and continuing education.  

Many professionals have requirements they must meet each year to stay current with their respective professional associations or with their employers.

If you fall into that category, the end-of-year calm is the perfect time to get caught up.  Many professional development or continuing education courses can be taken online and at your convenience, so now is the time to take advantage of that flexibility. Use your open calendar and the quiet space to get up to speed on any webinars or classes you’re required to take.

You can also take this time to update any annual forms requirements and plan your professional development goals for the year ahead.

By using the December downtime to your professional advantage, you can position yourself to succeed in the new year.